Justice for Sherry Chen: Scientist falsely accused of espionage in the US gets job back
In 2014, Chinese-American scientist Sherry Chen was arrested and accused of espionage. That case went nowhere. But the US Commerce Department still fired her from the National Weather Service. In April, the agency was ordered to reinstate Chen. Mark Niu reports.
It was a day Beijing-born, US citizen Sherry Chen had been waiting for three and a half years.
SHERRY CHEN HYDROLOGIST "I have been waiting and waiting for someone, with authority, to come out publically to clear my name and set the fact straight. To say that all the allegations against me were false. The judge did just that."
The award-winning hydrologist spoke at a press event sponsored by the Committee of 100 - an organization of prominent Chinese Americans that also contributed to her legal defense fund. In Chen's case, the judge ruled she was a victim of gross injustice. But she's not alone.
MARK NIU SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA Research by visiting scholar at South Texas College of Law Andrew Kim found that the percentage of people of Chinese heritage charged under the Economic Espionage Act has tripled since 2009 to 52-percent and up to 62-percent for people of Asian heritage.
ANDREW KIM VISITING SCHOLAR, SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW "Asians and people of Chinese descent are being disproportionately prosecuted, but what's even more disturbing is that so many of them are innocent. As many as one in five Asian people accused of espionage are innocent. That's a rate that's double that for other races."
SHERRY CHEN HYDROLOGIST "Tell you the truth, we haven't told my mom yet. Until now, we decide not to because we can imagine that bad things that will happen to her."
Sherry's legal team is preparing a lawsuit for malicious prosecution and false arrest. In such a tense environment, I asked her whether she truly wanted to go back to work.
SHERRY CHEN HYDROLOGIST "I've been dreaming several times. I can tell you one story last time we have a deposition; my lawyer and I went to my office. That's like two years after I was handcuffed and led away from office. Get into the office, everyone come out and hugged me. And we all have tears. The job I really love. I put so much of my energy and my time."
But Chen isn't completely out of the clear. The US Department of Commerce still has until May 28th to decide whether to appeal the case. Mark Niu, CGTN, Santa Clara, California.