One charge dropped against Chinese researcher

Support Local Journalism


Judge rules FBI violated suspect’s Miranda rights

By Caleb Hampton McNaughton Media Earlier this month, a judge in federal court in Sacramento dismissed one of the two counts filed against Juan Tang, a former visiting cancer researcher at the UC Davis Medical Center. Tang was arrested last year and charged with lying on her visa application and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when two agents questioned her at her Davis apartment in June 2020. U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez threw out the count of lying to the FBI, ruling that the agents violated Tang’s Miranda rights by neglecting to inform her she had the right to remain silent or to end the questioning at any point. Because of that failure, any statements Tang made during that interview with the FBI must be “suppressed,” the judge ruled. “At the time of the interview, she had no experience with the American justice system,” the judge wrote in his order. “A reasonable person in her position would not have felt free to terminate the interrogation or to ask the agents to leave.” Prosecutors argued that they did not take Tang into custody that day and that their interaction was cordial and not intended to be confrontational. One of the agents spoke Mandarin with Tang and they brought a toy for Tang’s child to play with, the prosecutors said. “Because Tang was not in custody at the time of the interview, she was not advised of her Miranda warnings nor was Tang advised that she was not compelled to speak with the agents or could end the interview at any time,” prosecutors wrote in court filings. After interviewing Tang, the agents served a search warrant at her residence and seized Tang’s passport and electronic devices. Federal prosecutors later charged Tang with lying to the FBI during that questioning. The judge has thrown out that charge, but Tang is still charged with lying on her U.S. visa application. The case against Tang hinges on whether she concealed her alleged affiliation to the Chinese military and the Communist Party of China. On her visa application, Tang said she was not affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party and had never served in the military, statements U.S. prosecutors say were false. Internet searches conducted by the FBI revealed a 2019 article about Tang’s medical research, which included a headshot of her wearing a military uniform that bore the insignia of the Civilian Cadres of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In a Statement of Probable Cause, the FBI cited three news articles that list Tang’s employer as the Air Force Medical University (AFMU), formerly known as the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU), in Xi’an, China. “It appears that Tang is part of a civilian cadre whose members are considered active-duty military personnel,” the criminal complaint states. FBI agents said in the complaint that Tang told them she, like others at AFMU, wore the uniform as was required and was unaware of the insignia’s meaning. According to a UC Davis spokesperson, Tang came to Davis through an exchange program affiliated with Xijing Hospital, which has been part of the Air Force Medical University since 1954 and is one of China’s top teaching hospitals. “Juan Tang was a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology, funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council, a study-based exchange program affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education and Xijing Hospital in China,” UC Davis Director of Media Relations Melissa Lutz Blouin said last year in an email to The Enterprise. According to Tang’s federal defender, Alexandra Negin, the pieces of evidence cited by federal authorities as proof of Tang’s secret military connections “lend themselves to many innocent explanations.” “Ms. Tang apparently attended a prestigious medical school that is run by the military in China. That does not mean that she was ‘in the military,’” said Negin. “The civilian students have no rank in the military and are free upon graduation to go wherever they wish to work.” Tang is one of several researchers from China recently charged with visa fraud “in connection with a scheme to lie about their status as members of the People’s Republic of China’s military forces,” the U.S. Department of Justice said last year in a press release. “In addition to these arrests, the FBI has recently conducted additional interviews of visa holders suspected of having undeclared affiliation with the Chinese military in more than 25 American cities,” the press release stated. Judge Mendez’s decision to dismiss the count of lying to the FBI in the case against Tang could put a spotlight on the FBI’s conduct in some of the cases against other Chinese researchers, the Sacramento Bee reported this week. In a June 8 court filing, defense attorneys for Chen Song, a Chinese researcher at Stanford who was charged last year with lying on her visa application, argued that Song had also been denied her Miranda rights. The judge in federal court in San Francisco has not yet made a ruling. Meanwhile, Tang’s trial in Sacramento is scheduled to begin July 26. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted of visa fraud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Article

Yolo County hosting Virtual Career Fair on June 30

Next Article

Garamendi earmarks funds in bill for I-505 overcrossing improvements

Related Posts