Friday, December 17, 2021

C&EN on Day 3 of the Lieber trial

Via Chemical and Engineering News' Bethany Halford: 
Renee Donlon, who did administrative work for Lieber from October 2012 through mid-2017, continued her testimony for the prosecution on Dec. 16. Yesterday, Donlon was introduced briefly and she described her work managing Lieber’s travel and calendar before court recessed for the day. Today, Donlon testified that she arranged several trips to Wuhan for Lieber and reviewed the itineraries for three trips in 2014. Donlon also said that on one occasion she attempted to use a Chinese bank card in Lieber’s name to pay for a change fee on a flight, but the charge did not go through.

Stephanie Guaba, one of Lieber’s defense attorneys, pointed out on cross examination that according to the travel itineraries Donlon prepared, Lieber was in Wuhan for less than 24 hours on two of the trips. On the third trip, he was in Wuhan for 37 hours. Guaba also asked Donlon if she had ever successfully made a purchase with Lieber’s Chinese bank card, and Donlon said she had not.

Next, the prosecution called US Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Kara Spice to testify. Spice was involved in Lieber’s arrest and subsequent questioning on Jan. 28, 2020. Assistant US Attorney Jason Casey asked Spice about email exchanges between Liqiang Mai, who worked in Lieber’s lab from 2008 to 2011. According to Mai’s website, he has been a professor at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) since 2004 and is now dean of WUT’s School of Materials Science and Engineering.

Casey had Spice read from many email exchanges between Lieber and Mai from 2011, 2012, and 2013 regarding Lieber’s role in establishing a nanotechnology lab at WUT. The prosecution also presented what it described as a contract for Lieber’s participation in the Thousand Talents Program. Lieber’s defense attorney Marc Mukasey called the document “an unsigned piece of paper.”
It seems pretty clear to me that the prosecution has a pretty cut-and-dried case that Lieber had an unreported financial relationship with WUT. It will be interesting to see how the defense attempts to disprove the prosecution's case. 

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