After five days of testimony at Boston federal court, the jury deliberated for approximately two hours and 45 seconds before issuing its verdict.
Marc Mukasey, Lieber's lawyer, argued that there was no proof that the charges were true. He claimed that investigators did not keep any records of the interviews Lieber had with them prior to his arrest.
Mukasey argued that prosecutors wouldn't be able to prove Lieber acted "knowingly", intentionally, or willfully or that he made any material falsified statement." He also stated that Lieber wasn’t charged with illegally transferring technology or proprietary information to China.
US investigates Tesla video game potential
Prosecutors claimed that Lieber was knowingly hiding his participation in China's Thousand Talents Plan. This program was designed to recruit Chinese intellectual property and foreign technology experts to help him protect his career.
Lieber denied involvement in inquiries by U.S authorities, including the National Institutes of Health which provided him with millions of dollar in research funding, prosecutors stated.
They claim that Lieber has agreed to publish articles, host international conferences, and file patent applications on behalf of the Chinese university in exchange.
This case is one of the most prominent to be brought up by the U.S. Department of Justice's "China Initiative."
China's economic espionage was curtailed in 2018, but it has been criticized for affecting academic research and racial profiling of Chinese researchers.
Many faculty members from Stanford, Yale and Princeton signed letters to U.S. attorney General Merrick Garland requesting that he end the initiative.
Academics claim the efforts have hampered the nation's technological and research competitiveness and had a chilling effect in recruiting foreign scholars. These letters complain that the investigations have unfairly targeted Chinese-born researchers.
Lieber was taken off paid administrative leave by Harvard after being arrested in January 2020.