Chinese researcher Juan Tang denied bail, court says her San Francisco Consulate stay unusual

World | 1 Aug 2020 3:00 pm

A Chinese woman researcher was ordered to remain in a California jail while she fights charges that she lied about her military service in China to get a U.S. visa.

A federal judge in Sacramento, California, rejected a request for bail from Juan Tang, whose prosecution for visa fraud has helped fuel tension between China and the U.S. Prosecutors argued that if she is freed, the Chinese government might help her escape, Bloomberg reports.

Tang, 37, is being held in county jail in Sacramento, near where she did cancer research at University of California at Davis.

She is among Chinese scholar visa holders in more than 25 American cities who the Justice Department suspects of having an “undeclared affiliation” with the Chinese military.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes rejected Tang’s bail request due her ties in China, including a husband and daughter there, and a lack of ties to the U.S. The judge said she was also concerned that no one else, on Tang’s behalf, had offered money or assets as surety.

“She has every reason to attempt to go back to her country of origin. There’s nothing here for her,” the judge said. “You’ve just got to give the court something more.”

Lexi Negin, the public defender representing Tang, said in an email that she’s disappointed by the decision.

“We will continue to work to try and find a suitable release package for Dr. Tang so that she can defend her case,” Negin said.

Tang stayed at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco for about a month after federal agents confronted her at her apartment in Davis.

Prosecutors argued Tang’s access to the consulate, to its intelligence and its ability to issue passports and assist with travel, were reasons to deny her bail.

Barnes said she found the facts surrounding Tang’s lengthy stay at the consulate “somewhat unusual.” Consulate officials must’ve had a good idea of Tang’s background to let her stay there, she said.

Negin said suspicions over Tang’s stay at the consulate were “baseless.” Officials there had every opportunity over the course of a month to help her return to China if that was her aim, she argued.

Aware of American law enforcement’s arrest warrant, consulate officials also didn’t stop Tang from leaving, knowing she’d be apprehended when she left the property, Negin said.

“Dr. Tang has every incentive to stay in the United states and fight this case,” Negin told the judge.

The case is U.S. v. Tang, 20-mj-96, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

 

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