By Sharon Simonson
Not so fast.
A Chinese professor accused of conspiracy, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets is facing a second turn in government custody after being released only days ago following six weeks in the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins on July 8 ordered Hao Zhang released based on a $500,000 secured bond despite objections from federal prosecutors that he remained a flight risk. Cousins confined Zhang to a Mountain View home and ordered his movements be electronically monitored.
But on July 13, U.S. immigration authorities served Zhang with a “Notice and Order of Expedited Removal” authorizing his deportation based on the revocation of his visitor’s visa by the U.S. State Department. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration, has taken him into its custody, according to federal prosecutors.
To avoid Zhang’s deportation and to ensure he remains in the United States to stand trial in U.S. federal court, U.S. attorneys are asking Judge Cousins to revoke Zhang’s bond and to order U.S. Marshals to re-take custody.
A federal grand jury indicted Zhang and five alleged co-conspirators on April 1. An arrest warrant for the six men was issued April 2. Zhang is the only one to have been arrested.
The federal government says the six men conspired to steal and stole trade secrets for the benefit of the Chinese government and themselves. All of the defendants are citizens of the People’s Republic of China.
The six are accused of stealing the knowhow from two semiconductor companies with Silicon Valley ties: Avago Technologies Ltd. and Skyworks Solutions Inc. Zhang worked for Skyworks for three years ending in 2009. He is now a full professor at China’s Tianjin University along with Wei Pang, one of his alleged co-conspirators. Pang worked for Avago at about the same time as Zhang worked for Skyworks.
At issue in keeping Zhang jailed is his ability to help prepare an adequate legal defense in what promises to be drawn-out and highly technical litigation. His attorney Thomas Nolan of Nolan Barton Bradford Olmos LLP in Palo Alto has argued to the court that Zhang’s long-term confinement in the county jail would deprive him of a fair hearing.
Zhang earned a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California in 2006; two of his alleged conspirators also earned advanced electrical engineering degrees from USC at the same time. USC has more international students than any other higher-education institution in the country, according to a study of F-1 student visas by the Brookings Institution.
U.S. law enforcement officers arrested Zhang on May 16 at the Los Angeles International Airport as he arrived from China with his wife on the way to a professional conference in Phoenix. He was traveling on a business-tourist visa issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That visa has now been revoked. He spent nearly two weeks in federal custody in Central California before he was transferred to San Jose, where he was indicted and the warrant for his arrest issued.
The matter is scheduled to go before Cousins at 1:30 p.m. July 21 in the U.S. District Court in downtown San Jose. Attorneys for Zhang declined comment or did not respond to requests for comment.
(Photo by Sharon Simonson)