A professor falsely accused of spying for China describes the toll it's taken on his family
Xiaoxing Xi, a physics professor at Temple University, remembers trying to make sense of what was happening to him and his family that early morning of May 2015
Xiaoxing Xi, a physics professor at Temple University, remembers trying to make sense of what was happening to him and his family that early morning of May 2015, when armed FBI agents swarmed his Philadelphia home before daybreak, shining flashlights in their eyes and rounding them up at gunpoint. Xi was arrested on a charge of economic espionage.
The case against Xi seven years ago revolved around a personal invention and his alleged disclosure of manufacturing information with his research community in China. Though Xi’s case was abruptly dropped four months after his arrest, he said it's taken a toll on his family and he's now taking legal action.
“My wife was telling me that her biggest concern was trying to help our younger daughter, who was 12 years old at that time, to not suffer the mental damages because of this traumatic thing,” Xi said. “She kept telling her that this was just like a movie, trying to minimize the fact that this was happening.”
While lower courts dismissed his case, Xi, who is among several other Chinese scientists to have been falsely accused of economic espionage, appeared before an appeals court last week in hopes of moving forward with a suit.
The Department of Justice had accused Xi of sharing schematics for a pocket heater with peers in his research community in China. Xi, who had previously signed a nondisclosure agreement over the blueprint, was described by prosecutors as engaging in “an effort to assist Chinese entities in becoming world leaders of the superconductivity field.”