Government Drops Charges Against Chinese-Born Temple Prof

Feds reportedly misunderstood tech at heart of case against Xi Xiaoxing.


Federal officials on Friday dropped charges against the Temple professor they had previously said shared confidential technology to his native China.

The feds offered no explanation in withdrawing the wire fraud charges against Xiaoxing Xi, saying in court documents only that it is “in the interests of justice” to discontinue the case. But the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors had discovered they misunderstood the technology at the heart of their case against Xi.

The technology involved a so-called “pocket heater,” used in semiconductor research. Xi allegedly sent schematics for such a device to contacts in China. Except, it turns out, he didn’t.

“The blueprints were not for a pocket heater. Faced with sworn statements from leading scientists, including an inventor of the pocket heater, the Justice Department on Friday afternoon dropped all charges against Dr. Xi, an American citizen,” the Times reported. “It was an embarrassing acknowledgment that prosecutors and F.B.I. agents did not understand — and did not do enough to learn — the science at the heart of the case before bringing charges that jeopardized Dr. Xi’s career and left the impression that he was spying for China.”

“I don’t expect them to understand everything I do,” Xi told the Times. “But the fact that they don’t consult with experts and then charge me? Put my family through all this? Damage my reputation? They shouldn’t do this. This is not a joke. This is not a game.”

Xi was charged in May and thereafter demoted from his position as the chair of the physics department at Temple. The Inquirer reported that Temple University spokesman said Friday it is “too soon” to say if he’ll be restored to that position.

See the dismissal motion from prosecutors below.