Federal prosecutors charged a visiting Stanford University scientist — accused of hiding her status as a member of the Chinese military — with additional criminal charges last week. Chen Song, the researcher in question, was initially charged with visa fraud this past July. A federal grand jury added charges of obstruction, alteration of records and false statements, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
“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.”
Song entered the United States in 2018 on a J-1 nonimmigrant visa, meant for work and educational exchanges, to conduct research at Stanford. On the visa application, Song said she served in the Chinese military from 2000 to 2011 and that her current employer was a civilian hospital in Beijing. The Justice Department alleges that these were lies — her true employer was a PLA hospital and she was a current member of the Chinese military.
The superseding indictment adds that when Song found out about a fellow PLA member charged with visa fraud, she attempted to delete documents relating to her military service and crime. Those documents included a digital version of a letter addressed to the Chinese consulate in New York explaining that the hospital employer on her résumé was a false front, her recent PLA credentials and a photo of her in military dress.
“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.