Sherry Chen, a Chinese-American hydrologist, was terminated from her position at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after an investigation as a spy for China found no grounds for charges.
The Committee of Concerned Scientists wrote to the Deputy Director of the National Weather Service at NOAA requesting that Ms. Chen be reinstated in her position as an hydrologist. The federal government began an investigation of Ms. Chen for allegedly spying for the government of China. Following the investigation, turning up no evidence for that accusation, the entire case was dropped. However, Ms. Chen was notified that she would be terminated from her position.
December 17, 2015
Ms. Laura K. Furgione
National Weather Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1325 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Dear Deputy Director Furgione:
We are writing to express our concern with your treatment of Sherry Chen, a Chinese-American hydrologist with the National Weather Service. Despite her being cleared of all charges in what appears to have been a disturbingly over-zealous prosecution – possibly due to the fact that she is a Chinese American – you wrote her in early September that you intended to fire her, based on essentially unconfirmed allegations that federal prosecutors decided were not worth pursuing.
In October 2014 Ms. Chen was investigated for allegedly spying for the government of China. Turning up no evidence for that accusation, the U.S. government charged her with lesser offenses, and then, in March of this year, summarily dropped the entire case against Ms. Chen.
This attempt to prosecute Sherry Chen appears to be part of a disconcerting trend in which law enforcement targets Asian American scholars and scientists. For example, Temple University Physics Professor Xi Xiaoxing was also aggressively investigated, arrested and charged with serious crimes, only to have his cases dropped also without explanation. Citing other cases, like those of Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Dr. Haiping Su and Dr. Wen Ho Lee, members of Congress have repeatedly called for an investigation into this “practice and pattern of the federal government profiling Chinese American scientists as spies from China even when there is no credible evidence to support it.”
Under these circumstances, it is unfair for Sherry Chen’s misery, caused by her unfounded prosecution, to be compounded by the loss of her job. There appears to be no legitimate reason for her employment to be terminated. We urge you to reconsider your letter of early September and allow Ms. Chen to return to her former position at the National Weather Service, free to pursue her chosen profession without discrimination.
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Accused of Spying for China, Until She Wasn’t (nytimes.com)
- US Urged to Investigate Alleged Spying Against Chinese Americans (comsecllc.blogspot.com)