Chinese university says professor accused of spying freed on bail in U.S.

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 30, 2015 7:18 AM

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have released on bail a Chinese professor who had been charged in May by the United States with economic espionage, a propaganda official from Tianjin University, his employer, said on Thursday.

Zhang Hao, a professor with Tianjin University, was one of six Chinese nationals charged by the U.S. government in May with economic espionage. The United States said they stole secrets from two companies that develop technology often used in military systems.

China's Foreign Ministry said in May that it was strongly concerned about the accusations.

Zhang was released on Wednesday on bail,

An employee from Tianjin University's press department surnamed Li verified Chinese media reports that Zhang had been released.

"We have confirmed the reports and they are true," Li said by telephone. "He's still in America and is staying with his relatives.

"As for the charges, he will definitely still have to go through the judicial process," Li said.

State-run China Radio International said Zhang was in "good condition", citing Zhang's lawyer.

Neither Zhang nor his U.S.-based lawyer were immediately available for comment. China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services did not answer calls for comment outside of normal business hours.

Zhang's release could ease some tensions between the United States and China when President Xi Jinping travels to Washington in September. U.S. authorities have repeatedly made accusations of economic espionage conducted on behalf of China, a sign that the United States is increasingly focused on what it has termed a top national security concern.

Beijing has in the past expressed outrage over U.S. government claims it engages in state-sponsored theft of commercial information, saying China is itself a victim of hacking attacks.

Zhang was arrested at Los Angeles International airport on May 16 as he entered the United States on the way to a conference.

In June, Zhang's wife, Fan Liping, wrote that her husband was innocent.

U.S. prosecutors have accused Zhang and his partners of stealing source code and designs from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions, and passing them on to Chinese universities and companies.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)