A visiting Stanford University scientist—accused of hiding her status as a member of the Chinese military—was charged with additional criminal charges last week by federal prosecutors. This past July, Chen Song, the researcher in question, was initially charged with visa fraud. The Justice Department reported Thursday that a federal grand jury had added allegations of obstruction, manipulation of documents and false statements.
“We allege that while Chen Song worked as a researcher at Stanford University, she was secretly a member of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army,” U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said in a release. “When Song feared discovery, she destroyed documents in a failed attempt to conceal her true identity. This prosecution will help to protect elite institutions like Stanford from illicit foreign influences.”
In 2018, Song entered the United States on a J-1 nonimmigrant visa to conduct research at Stanford, intended for work and educational exchanges. With regard to the visa application, Song claimed that she had served in the Chinese military from 2000 to 2011 and that her current employer was a Beijing civilian hospital. The Department of Justice argues that these were lies—her actual employer was a PLA hospital and she was a current Chinese military officer.
When Song found out about a fellow PLA member charged with visa fraud, she tried to erase records relevant to her military service and crime, the superseding indictment adds. Those records included a digital version of a letter addressed to the Chinese Consulate in New York stating that a false front, her latest PLA credentials and a picture of her in military dress is the hospital employer on her resume.
“If convicted, she faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the visa fraud count; up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for each of the obstruction and alteration charges; and up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for the false statements charge,” the department said in the release.