Sherry Chen, an employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was notified that she was being investigated by the Justice Department for spying for China in October 2014. The investigation cleared her but she was never reinstated, and was eventually fired from her position with the Weather Service for NOAA.
CCS has written on behalf of Ms. Chen in the past and is now sending a follow-up letter requesting that NOAA reinstate her. Chinese Americans who are working in the United States are finding that they are frequently suspected of spying for China and investigations so far have not proven such.
June 6, 2016
Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere/
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Under Secretary Sullivan,
As the Committee of Concerned Scientists, dedicated to defending the human rights of scientists under threat around the world, we write to express our dismay at the continuing mistreatment of Sherry Chen, a Chinese-American hydrologist who, until March, worked at the National Weather Service.
Allegations that she had improper contact with the Chinese government were thoroughly investigated by the Justice Department and a pending case against her was dropped in early 2015. However, a year later she was fired due to essentially the same apparently baseless allegations. This May, she filed a formal discrimination complaint against NOAA.
We wrote to the National Weather Service Deputy Director in December, when Sherry Chen’s firing was imminent. We expressed then and reiterate now our concern that the attempt to prosecute Sherry Chen appears to be part of a disconcerting trend in which law enforcement has targeted Asian American scholars and scientists.
For example, Temple University physics professor Xi Xiaoxing was also investigated, arrested, and, like Ms. Chen, charged with serious crimes, only to have his case dropped. He was reinstated at the University, but also was denied his former position and the ability to continue to work on a grant he was heading prior to his investigation. Citing other cases, like those of Guoqing Cao, Shuyu Li, Dr. Haiping Su, and Dr. Wen Ho Lee, Members of Congress have 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 perplexing and disturbing that Sherry Chen would lose her job after the allegations against her proved to be unfounded. There appears to be no legitimate reason for her employment to have been terminated, so we urge you to allow Sherry Chen to return to her position at the National Weather Service, free to pursue her chosen profession without discrimination.
Sincerely,Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
Herbert C. Hoover Building
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230
- Chinese-American Cleared of Spying Charges Now Faces Firing (nytimes.com)
- Falsely accused of spying, Weather Service employee’s life turned upside down (washingtonpost.com)
- Was Race A Factor in Sherry Chen’s Espionage Case? (nbcnews.com)