Prosecution and defense attorneys gave their opening statements on Dec. 15 to a jury of 12 people and 2 alternate jurors. The crowded courtroom included some of Lieber’s former lab members, one of whom wore a hooded sweatshirt printed with Lieber’s likeness.Assistant US Attorney J. R. Drabick outlined the government’s case, saying that it was about false statements, false tax returns, and a hidden bank account. Drabick said that Lieber participated in a Chinese recruiting program known as the Thousand Talents Program (TTP). Participating in the program is not a crime, but the government alleges that Lieber falsely stated that he was not involved with the TTP when he spoke with investigators for the US Department of Defense. Making false statements to government investigators is illegal.In addition, “Evidence will show the defendant was paid tens of thousands of dollars for his work,” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) up to $50,000 per month, half in cash and half in a Chinese bank account set up for him, Drabick said. Lieber allegedly did not report that income on his tax returns in 2013 and 2014, nor did he report the foreign bank account, as required by law. Drabick said that Lieber wanted WUT to nominate him for a Nobel Prize in return for his work with the school.
Beth is livetweeting the trial, and also offering daily updates.