“Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng is expected to make his initial appearance before US Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 2 p.m. in Houston. Authorities took him into custody Sunday, Aug. 23,” the statement said.
According to the charges, the 53-year-old Cheng willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese university and at least one Chinese-owned company. The terms of his US grant prohibited participation, collaboration or coordination with China, any Chinese-owned company or any Chinese university.
The Justice Department said China has adopted a program to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of the country’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.
Cheng and Texas A&M University received funds based on the professor knowingly providing false information to the university and consequently to NASA, the Justice Department said.
“In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station. This access allegedly allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at the Guangdong University of Technology and other universities,” the statement said.
The Justice Department noted that Cheng held senior research positions unknown to Texas A&M University and NASA that enabled him to serve the China talents program.