By Jane Lanhee Lee
(Reuters) – The United States government filed motions in federal court on Friday to dismiss charges in the remaining four cases of Chinese investigators arrested on visa fraud charges last year.
A case against a fifth Chinese investigator had already been dismissed earlier that day at the request of the US Department of Justice.
The cases were part of the department’s “China Initiative” that began three years ago under the Trump administration to prevent the transfer of American technology to China. The motions to dismiss the cases coincide with the visit of the new Biden administration’s undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman, to China on Sunday and Monday.
The five arrests occurred about a year ago when US-China relations were at an all-time low and now the world’s two largest economies are seeking to navigate a troubled relationship.
The Justice Department said in a statement that it was dismissing the cases in the “interest of justice.”
“Recent developments in a handful of cases involving defendants with alleged and undisclosed ties to the People’s Liberation Army of the People’s Republic of China have prompted the department to re-evaluate these prosecutions,” the department spokesman statement said. , Wyn Hornbuckle, without detailing what those developments were.
All Chinese scientists have pleaded not guilty to falsifying visa applications to hide military ties and other charges.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Law Caucus have raised concerns about the cases, which they say reflect an anti-China bias. Defense attorneys have said their clients’ only “crime” is coming into conflict with US-China politics.
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