A University of Kansas chemical engineering professor, Feng "Franklin" Tao, was found guilty in a trial stemming from a Trump-era crackdown on Chinese influence in U.S. research, Reuters reports. A federal jury convicted him of hiding work he was doing in China while conducting federally funded research with University of Kansas' Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis projects. Prosecutors alleged that he failed to document a conflict of interest in school reports because he had also signed a five-year contract with Fuzhou University in China. He is one among about two dozen academics the U.S. Justice Department charged during the crackdown of suspected espionage and conflict of interest.
The Trump-era policy gained criticism that it had a chilling effect on research and fueled bias against Asians. The Justice Department has ended the crackdown after several failed prosecutions. Tao denies wrongdoing and his lawyer, Peter Zeidenberg, said he would challenge the verdict. "While we are deeply disappointed with the jury’s verdict, we believe it was so clearly against the weight of the evidence we are convinced that it will not stand," he said.