Prosecutors in the United States on Friday sought to dismiss all charges against a Temple University professor accused of trying to send sensitive American-made technology to China, according to media reports. The FBI admitted that they had misunderstood the technology.
A four page motion was filed to drop four counts of wire fraud against the professor, Xi Xiaoxing. However, the U.S. attorneys in Philadelphia reportedly declined to comment on the motion. The move comes as the FBI and the Obama administration have ramped up efforts to counter problems of economic espionage directed at U.S. companies by Chinese firms.
“We’re very relieved that the charges against my father were dropped,” his daughter, Joyce Xi, said, according to the Guardian. “It’s been a very difficult time for our family and we’re looking forward to regaining some normalcy in our lives.”
The government reportedly said in its filing that the motion was based on “additional information” it had received since charges were filed against the 57-year-old. The motion still must be approved by a U.S. district judge.
Xi was charged in May with wire fraud for allegedly sharing superconductor technology of a U.S. company with China. In June, Xi reportedly pleaded guilty to all charges against him.
U.S. authorities had previously thought that Xi was sending information related to a magnesium diboride pocket heater for which he had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the company.
Peter Zeidenberg, attorney for Xi, reportedly said that federal authorities handling the case misunderstood key parts of the professor’s work and the meaning of emails he had exchanged with people in China.
“We found what appeared to be some fundamental mistakes and misunderstandings about the science and technology involved here,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We were very happy to see they listened to our presentation and it apparently had an impact on them.’’