FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2016
Our Voices Have Been Heard:The U.S. Department of Justice Tightens Rules for Alleged Espionage Cases
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WASHINGTON, DC — New Asian Leaders (NAL), a non-profit Asian American leadership organization headquartered in Washington, DC, congratulates the U.S. Department of Justice in tightening rules for espionage cases. The new rules will give prosecutors in Washington, DC greater oversight and control over national security cases following the sudden dismissals of several high-profile prosecutions that were alleged to be targeting Chinese Americans for being singled out as spies because of their race and national origin.
Over 22 U.S. congressmembers have demanded a review of the procedures related to national security investigations following the complaints and suggestions brought forth by organizations such as Committee of 100, 80-20 Initiatives, Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA), OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, and New Asian Leaders. As a result, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said that the procedures would change. All cases affecting national security, even tangentially, will now require coordination and oversight in Washington. Consulting with experienced national security prosecutors in Washington would, in the words of Ms. Yates, “ensure prompt, consistent and effective responses” to national security cases, according to the New York Times.
The new rules are revisions of previous directives for federal prosecutors and appears as modifications in the U.S. Attorney’s Manual (updated on March 2016) so as to prevent such missteps, while still not undermining the counterespionage efforts that are a top priority of the Obama Administration. U.S. Attorney Generals need to consult with the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) of the Justice Department at all stages of a case — including before the arrest is made or search warrants are given. The new revision to the Manual states that they are also required to consult with CES “if there is a reasonable question about whether a particular matter affects the national security.” It also includes an additional requirement that Attorney Generals need to consult with CES before a plea agreement is filed.
Since 2014, four Chinese Americans who had been accused of violating the national security of the United States had their charges against them dropped. More recently, prosecutors dropped a case against Sherry Chen, a government hydrologist working for the National Weather Service, as well as a case against Professor Xiaoxing Xi, a Temple University faculty member. Both were charged with obtaining and sharing sensitive information with China that could endanger national security, but each had their charges dropped. Nonetheless, both Sherry Chen and Professor Xiaoxing Xi are now saddled with the costs associated with their defense, and, in the case of Ms. Sherry Chen, a dismissal of her job with the federal government. She is now asking for reinstatement and both are asking, through the legal process, restitution.
Peter R. Zeidenberg, a lawyer for the law firm Arent Fox, who represents both Sherry Chen and Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, believes that these new rules and procedures are a very positive step. He stated that these steps are overdue, and represents proactive measures by the Department of Justice to rectify missteps in the past.
The Justice Department memo concerning the rule changes was not released publicly, but a government official pro-vided a copy to the New York Times. The memo was issued by Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates to federal prosecutors nationwide. It is related to the revisions to the manual mentioned in this press release.
For further information and updates, please check NAL’s website:http://www.newasianleaders.org/sherry-chen .
We congratulate the U.S. Department of Justice in doing the right thing. Charges brought forth by federal prosecutors on national security issues are very serious matters, and require utmost caution and considerable oversight. We are very pleased with the new procedures laid out by DOJ and hope that every effort will be made to safeguard national security of the United States while protecting the rights of individuals from undue harm based upon national origin, race, or creed,” said Mr. Cliff Li, Executive Director, New Asian Leaders.(Click here to add your comment)
***If you would like further information, please contact Mr. Cliff Zhonggang Li, Executive Director of New Asian Leaders. Call NAL direct at 954-233-0672 x 527 or email us at press@NewAsianLeaders.org. New Asian Leaders (NAL) is committed to encouraging Asian Americans to participate in the political process and to ensure the establishment of future leaders in the Asian American community.