NASA Researcher Sentenced For Concealing China Ties

A senior NASA scientist has been sentenced to 30 days in prison, months after he pleaded guilty to lying about his ties to a program backed by the Chinese regime designed to harvest talents from the West and transfer intellectual property to China.

Meyya Meyyappan, 66, of Pacifica, California, was sentenced on Wednesday for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), NASA’s Office of Inspector General (NASA OIG), and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (USAO), the Justice Department announced in a news release.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.

Meyyappan joined NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1996 and was the chief scientist for exploration technology at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley since 2006.

Prosecutors said that Meyyappan had participated in China’s state-run Thousand Talents Plan and held positions at universities in China, South Korea, and Japan without NASA’s knowledge. The Thousand Talents program has recruited thousands of experts globally since its inception in 2008, according to Chinese state media reports.

NASA prohibits “any outside employment activities” without approval, including engagement as a speaker or teacher, U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss said in the court complaint. As a NASA employee, Meyyappan is also required to report annually any additional income exceeding $5,000, gifts, and travel reimbursements.

Meyyappan failed to disclose these activities to NASA. Around 2016, he applied for and was accepted into the Thousand Talents Plan, through which he traveled to China and recommended other candidates into the program, according to prosecutors. Beginning in 2014, he worked as a visiting professor at a Chinese research university, giving lectures, writing research papers, and receiving compensation for his travel. He also started similar engagements at a South Korean university from 2009, and at a university in Japan from 2013.

When questioned by federal investigators in October 2020, Meyyappan denied his membership in the Thousand Talents Plan and his employment at Chinese institutions.

“As a senior NASA scientist with access to sensitive and confidential U.S. government technologies and intellectual property, Meyya Meyyappan was understandably subject to restrictions regarding outside employment and compensation,” Strauss said in a statement.

The privilege of access to cutting edge U.S. technologies and intellectual property comes with the critical responsibility of protecting their secrecy, Strauss added.

“Meyyappan betrayed that trust, by failing to disclose his foreign activities and then compounding his mistakes by lying to the FBI and NASA. He has now been sentenced to time in federal prison for his unlawful conduct.”

The Chinese regime’s Thousand Talents Plan has come under close U.S. scrutiny over threats to America’s national security.

It was rolled out by Beijing in 2008, and is the Chinese state’s most prominent recruitment program. Hundreds of similar operations exist at the central and local government levels, aiming to attract promising overseas Chinese and foreign experts in the fields of science and technology to fuel the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s innovation drive.

Eva Fu contributed to this report.

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One Response to “NASA Researcher Sentenced For Concealing China Ties”

  1. Wake Up Fools Wake Up Fools says:

    More fake news to convince the sheep that China isn’t run by jewmerica.

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