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Bail denied for UC Davis Chinese researcher as judge finds defendant a flight risk

Sam Stanton, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A federal magistrate judge denied a request Friday to release on bail a former Chinese researcher at the University of California, Davis who has been accused of lying about her ties to China's military and Communist Party to gain access to the United States.

"I just don't see sufficient conditions to overcome flight risk," U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes said in ordering continued detention of Juan Tang. "She would have every reason to leave."

Tang, 37, has been held without bail at the Sacramento County Main Jail since July 23, after she was arrested by FBI agents when she emerged from hiding in the Chinese consulate in San Francisco and went to visit a doctor, authorities say.

Tang had been considered a fugitive who sought refuge for a month inside the consulate after being questioned June 20 at her Davis apartment by FBI agents.

The Justice Department says Tang is one of several researchers from China who received visas to conduct research at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States. But the department says Tang and the others lied about their backgrounds, falsely claiming to have no ties to China's People's Liberation Army-Air Force, or PLAAF or the Communist Party.

Tang's federal defender, Alexandra Negin, has argued that she is not a flight risk and that the FBI had seized her passport in June, which prompted her to seek help from consular officials.

 

Negin said Tang was willing to wear a monitoring device and be placed on home arrest pending trial.

But prosecutors have painted a much darker view of her activities, saying she lied on her visa application, misled FBI agents who questioned her and tried unsuccessfully to delete some of the information stored on her electronic devices.

"Tang is an active duty member of the Chinese military's scientific community, who lied to gain entry into the United States, attempted to destroy evidence, and lied extensively to the FBI when interviewed," Assistant U.S. Attorney Heiko Coppola wrote in advance of Friday afternoon's hearing. "It also appears that Tang's present case is not an isolated instance of Chinese military members unlawfully gaining admission to the United States through visa fraud.

"Because she is a serious flight risk, the court should order Tang's continued detention during the pendency of this criminal case."

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