In an ongoing trial in Knoxville, Tenn., last week, FBI Agent Kujtim Sadiku admitted federal agents had falsely accused former University of Tennessee associate professor Dr. Anming Hu of being a spy for the Chinese government.
Trial details: During the trial, Sadiku said he did not read nearly every document used by federal prosecutors as proof against Hu, adding that he does not remember the contents of some of them, according to Knoxville News Sentinel.
- During cross-examination, defense attorney Phil Lomonaco told Sadiku, “You wanted to find a Chinese spy in Knoxville.” In his response, Sadiku said, “My job is to find spies, yes.”
- Sadiku admitted he doesn’t know when the last time Hu went to China. “You’ve been carrying around his passport … haven’t you?” Lomonaco said. “You know you’re under oath, right?”
- In response, Sadiku told Lomonaco, “I don’t remember the dates on it … I wouldn’t rely on that document.” However, the defense attorney asked the federal agent, “You wouldn’t rely on his passport? Can we have it back?”
- Hu won’t be able to get his passport back until U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan or a federal jury throws out the three counts of wire fraud against him, according to the Sentinel.
- Sadiku admitted he could not recall the person who tipped him off about Hu being a spy.
The accusation: Sadiku launched an investigation against Hu in March 2018 in what he called an “open source” search of information, which later revealed to be a Google search on the associate professor.
- The U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) launched the “China Initiative” in 2018, which includes “identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking, and economic espionage,” according to the DOJ website.
- In the trial, Sadiku insisted he had no idea about the initiative when he began his investigation against Hu.
- The federal agent also admitted to using the alleged false information he gathered to pressure Hu to become a spy for the U.S., put him on a federal no-fly list and justified the surveillance on Hu and his son, a student at UTK, for two years.
- U.S. Customs agents allegedly seized the associate professor’s computer and phone. They also spread the word in the international research community about Hu being “poison.”
- Sadiku has yet to provide evidence proving his claims since the beginning of the investigation.
Ruling: The jury will continue their deliberations on June 16, APA Justice reported.
- U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee Thomas Varlan may announce his ruling this week, The Hill reported. He could either rule out that prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to pursue fraud charges against Hu or he may have to allow the 12-person jury to decide.
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