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Ex-Stanford researcher allegedly tied to Chinese military faces more charges

Prosecutors accuse Chen Song of working for People's Liberation Army while at university on student visa

Chen Song, 39, is facing federal charges for allegedly withholding details on her involvement with the Chinese military while she worked as a Stanford University researcher. Embarcadero Media file photo by Sinead Chang.

She came to Stanford University to study brain disease. Now Chen Song, who was previously arrested for visa fraud last summer, faces additional charges in a case tying her to the Chinese military, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday.

Prosecutors have accused the former Stanford visiting researcher of concealing ties to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) and continued involvement with the organization while she worked at Stanford. A federal grand jury indicted her on Jan. 7 on additional charges of obstruction of official proceedings; two counts of alteration, destruction, mutilation or concealment of records; and making false statements to a government agency in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status. She could face up to 55 years in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Song, 39, a Chinese national, was arrested for visa fraud on July 18 after an investigation found that she and three others allegedly omitted or lied about their military connections on their U.S. visa applications.

In November 2018, Song applied for a J-1 visa, which is designated "for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs," according to federal prosecutors. She described herself as a neurologist who was coming to the U.S. to conduct research related to brain disease at Stanford. In response to an application question about military service, Song wrote that she had served in the Chinese military only from Sept. 1, 2000, through June 30, 2011. She was a student employed at Xi Diaoyutai Hospital in Beijing, she claimed.

However, Song allegedly neglected to say that she was a member of the People's Liberation Army at the time she entered the U.S. on Dec. 23, 2018, and continued to be employed by the Chinese military, federal prosecutors said.

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The medical facility she listed on her visa as her employer, Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was also a cover for her true employer, the PLA Air Force General Hospital in Beijing, according to prosecutors.

When Song learned about a case against another PLA member, who was charged with visa fraud on June 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, she allegedly attempted to delete a digital folder of documents on an external hard drive related to her military service and visa fraud, the new indictment alleges. The documents included a letter from Song, written in Chinese and addressed to the People's Republic of China Consulate in New York, in which she explained that her stated employer, Beijing Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was a false front; an image of her PLA credentials, with a photograph of her in military dress uniform, from July 2016 to July 2020; and a resume written in Chinese, which included her photograph in a military dress uniform and listed her employer as the Air Force General Hospital.

"When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity. This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences," David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said in a press release.

Song also allegedly lied to FBI agents, denying any affiliation with the PLA after 2011. Information associating her with the PLA or Air Force General Hospital began to disappear from the internet after she learned of the FBI's investigation, prosecutors allege.

After Song was initially charged, she selectively deleted information about military service, employment and affiliations from her email account, prosecutors claim.

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If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the visa fraud count; up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statements charge.

"The FBI is committed to protecting academic institutions in the Bay Area from PRC (People's Republic of China) military officers who knowingly and willfully lie about their military affiliations to access American research and development. We will exhaust all investigative techniques and measures to ensure the safety, security, and hard work of American universities," Craig Fair, FBI special agent in charge, said in the release.

Song's next appearance in federal court is scheduled for April 7 before U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco for a pretrial conference. Her trial is scheduled to begin on April 12.

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Ex-Stanford researcher allegedly tied to Chinese military faces more charges

Prosecutors accuse Chen Song of working for People's Liberation Army while at university on student visa

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:34 am

She came to Stanford University to study brain disease. Now Chen Song, who was previously arrested for visa fraud last summer, faces additional charges in a case tying her to the Chinese military, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday.

Prosecutors have accused the former Stanford visiting researcher of concealing ties to China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) and continued involvement with the organization while she worked at Stanford. A federal grand jury indicted her on Jan. 7 on additional charges of obstruction of official proceedings; two counts of alteration, destruction, mutilation or concealment of records; and making false statements to a government agency in connection with a scheme to conceal and lie about her status. She could face up to 55 years in federal prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Song, 39, a Chinese national, was arrested for visa fraud on July 18 after an investigation found that she and three others allegedly omitted or lied about their military connections on their U.S. visa applications.

In November 2018, Song applied for a J-1 visa, which is designated "for individuals approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs," according to federal prosecutors. She described herself as a neurologist who was coming to the U.S. to conduct research related to brain disease at Stanford. In response to an application question about military service, Song wrote that she had served in the Chinese military only from Sept. 1, 2000, through June 30, 2011. She was a student employed at Xi Diaoyutai Hospital in Beijing, she claimed.

However, Song allegedly neglected to say that she was a member of the People's Liberation Army at the time she entered the U.S. on Dec. 23, 2018, and continued to be employed by the Chinese military, federal prosecutors said.

The medical facility she listed on her visa as her employer, Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was also a cover for her true employer, the PLA Air Force General Hospital in Beijing, according to prosecutors.

When Song learned about a case against another PLA member, who was charged with visa fraud on June 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, she allegedly attempted to delete a digital folder of documents on an external hard drive related to her military service and visa fraud, the new indictment alleges. The documents included a letter from Song, written in Chinese and addressed to the People's Republic of China Consulate in New York, in which she explained that her stated employer, Beijing Xi Diaoyutai Hospital, was a false front; an image of her PLA credentials, with a photograph of her in military dress uniform, from July 2016 to July 2020; and a resume written in Chinese, which included her photograph in a military dress uniform and listed her employer as the Air Force General Hospital.

"When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity. This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences," David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said in a press release.

Song also allegedly lied to FBI agents, denying any affiliation with the PLA after 2011. Information associating her with the PLA or Air Force General Hospital began to disappear from the internet after she learned of the FBI's investigation, prosecutors allege.

After Song was initially charged, she selectively deleted information about military service, employment and affiliations from her email account, prosecutors claim.

If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the visa fraud count; up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statements charge.

"The FBI is committed to protecting academic institutions in the Bay Area from PRC (People's Republic of China) military officers who knowingly and willfully lie about their military affiliations to access American research and development. We will exhaust all investigative techniques and measures to ensure the safety, security, and hard work of American universities," Craig Fair, FBI special agent in charge, said in the release.

Song's next appearance in federal court is scheduled for April 7 before U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup in San Francisco for a pretrial conference. Her trial is scheduled to begin on April 12.

Comments

Elgin Taylor
Registered user
Stanford
on Feb 19, 2021 at 12:29 pm
Elgin Taylor, Stanford
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Is Chen Song currently under federal custody as other alleged Chinese espionage agents have been known to easily & quickly flee the country to avoid further questioning or prosecution. The Chinese spy romantically involved with Democratic Congressman Eric Stalwell and several U.S. mayors is the most recent example.

This does not bode well for Sino-U.S. diplomatic relations as the United States is deeply concerned about the omnipotent and escalating Chinese military aggression in the Far East.

Extreme U.S. security vetting is paramount to ensure the safety of our nation and any foreign national from an enemy country should be subject to extreme scrutiny and not allowed to enter the United States whether it be for medical, scientific, engineering, or humanitarian research as contrived academic backgrounds are meaningless.


Lindsay A.
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2021 at 1:40 pm
Lindsay A., Crescent Park
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2021 at 1:40 pm

China represents the new world power of the 21st century.

Great Britain had its moment back in the 19th century with a vast colonial empire and powerful navy.

Global power in the 20th century shifted towards the United States but America is now playing second fiddle to China because we have become dependent on them for many consumer goods and for having financed the second Iraq War to the tune of trillions of dollars.

Someday we may all have to learn Mandarin.


Bud Green
Registered user
Green Acres
on Feb 19, 2021 at 2:06 pm
Bud Green, Green Acres
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2021 at 2:06 pm

The great thing about producing much of our technology in China and Israel is that those countries can do their nasty business from home.


parent
Registered user
Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm
parent, Barron Park
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2021 at 5:00 pm

I know from personal experience that university professors and school administration officials like to hire foreign graduate students and post-docs because they can work them into the ground, compared to US born students who would complain and refuse to work unreasonably long hours.

But why is the federal government allowing these security risks to continue?


Miriam LaTorre
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 20, 2021 at 11:43 am
Miriam LaTorre, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Feb 20, 2021 at 11:43 am

We should not allow scientists or researchers from enemy countries to study in the United States.

Besides, if they are so gifted in their fields, shouldn't they have their own labs and research centers in their respective countries?


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 20, 2021 at 1:48 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 20, 2021 at 1:48 pm

Fang Fang AKA Christine Fang did some fundraising for Congressman Eric Swalwall. He had cut off all ties to this person in 2015 after U.S. Intelligence notified him of their concerns about Fang. There is no evidence that they were romantically involved. Yes she did flee the country. The PROC engages in economic espionage here in Silicon Valley as well as in academic and political spying. Now Song has been caught. The PROC counts on Americans being lax and will do everything and anything to get intelligence and research. The PROC would never allow our researchers, politicians and business personnel access. Wake up.


AlexDeLarge
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 21, 2021 at 11:47 am
AlexDeLarge, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2021 at 11:47 am

A summary execution, after conviction of course, would send a powerful message to those in power in the PRC.


A. Yamashita
Registered user
another community
on Feb 21, 2021 at 12:00 pm
A. Yamashita, another community
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2021 at 12:00 pm

"A summary execution, after conviction of course, would send a powerful message to those in power in the PRC."

∆ Would this measure not have a severe impact on the Sino-U.S. diplomatic relationship?

In Japan, we are extremely wary of PRC military aggression and it's adverse impacts on other Pacific Rim countries.

As a result, our parliament is seeking pre-WW2 military measures to pre-empt any unwarranted military threats on the part of China.


AlexDeLarge
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 21, 2021 at 6:52 pm
AlexDeLarge, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2021 at 6:52 pm

@A. Yamashita,

Well it seems you aware of how dangerous the PRC is, in a nutshell every action taken by the PRC results in a severe impact on Sino-US diplomacy. How long can we, the US, ignore this? Just as we had to kill Kasem Sulimani, the aggressive architect of Iran's nuke program, the PRC needs to understand the depth and severity of their actions. They cannot be trusted and need to to be held accountable. It's the ugly truth.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 21, 2021 at 9:23 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2021 at 9:23 pm

Was Stanford or U.S. immigration/visa authorities lax on this case?
WHY do universities invite persons from Communist or authoritarian countries here to “study,” conduct research...or spy?
I get that overseas students pay more. No excuse.
The Communist Chinese are continually probing, hacking, testing all avenues here in our open society for intellectual property theft, for identity theft, military spying. They can contact even honest students and other persons who are over here from China to pressure them to spy or cooperate to help them...against the U.S.
i feel strongly on this topic.
Doesn’t their advanced fighter plane closely resemble one of ours? (I thought this was so obvious as to be stunning,)
China is expanding, threatening Taiwan, the Philippines, expanding in other south seas areas, Africa. I’m sad about HK.
Odd how U.S. politicians are so understated on this. I guess they’re ceded world leadership to Xi Jinping. I do not want to be under his Communist thumb. Americans are so distracted and appear largely clueless and uncaring.
The near holocaust against the Uighurs is a human rights outrage.
Let’s focus on building a strong north and south and central America, with jobs, good government, positive contributions to the world.


Judith
Registered user
Southgate
on Feb 22, 2021 at 7:15 am
Judith , Southgate
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2021 at 7:15 am

President Biden will need to further warn the PRC that any more of their blatant misdeeds will result in additional economic sanctions, expulsion of all PRC nationals residing in the U.S. & the freezing of their financial assets.

American universities should also refuse to admit all 'scholars & researchers' from the PRC as well...we do not need them.

Lastly & worst case scenario...war with the PRC to defend American & Pacific Rim security & economic interests.


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