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Chinese American Professor, Xiaoxing Xi, Files Lawsuit Against FBI Agents to Demand Justice for His Wrongful Prosecution

May 10, 2017 News

Contact: Christina So, christinaso@advancingjustice-alc.org, 415-848-7728

Philadelphia, PA – Professor Xiaoxing Xi, a renowned American scientist who was wrongfully prosecuted by the U.S. government in 2015 and accused of spying for China, has brought a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia against the FBI agents who conducted the investigation against him. Professor Xi seeks to hold accountable the agents responsible for his unlawful prosecution, and to call attention to the fact that the government has unfairly targeted Chinese American scientists for merely doing their jobs.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice unjustly arrested and charged Professor Xi for allegedly sharing sensitive U.S. technology with China. The government abruptly dropped all its charges months later when it became clear that Professor Xi had never sent scientists in China any of the information about the technology described in the charges. In fact, the federal government had sought to criminalize Professor Xi for routine academic research and collaboration that was not secret or unlawful in any way.

In the lawsuit, Professor Xi asserts that the agents’ actions initiated a malicious prosecution against him and resulted in unlawful searches and seizures of his property, and that this conduct violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. Professor Xi also asserts claims that the agents’ actions were motivated by his race and ethnicity and violated his rights to equal protection of the law under the Fifth Amendment.

In his complaint, Professor Xi alleges that the agents knew, or recklessly disregarded, that he had never sent sensitive information to colleagues in China, yet still persisted in initiating the prosecution against him. As a result, Professor Xi was threatened with a conviction that could have resulted in up to 80 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1 million.

“Professor Xi committed no crime, and the evidence of his innocence was overwhelming,” said David Rudovsky, an attorney at Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg who is representing Professor Xi. “That he was charged in these circumstances is deeply troubling, and this lawsuit seeks to hold accountable those who were responsible for his wrongful prosecution.”

Professor Xi’s prosecution is part of a disturbing string of recent cases in which Chinese Americans have been accused by the federal government of spying for China, only to have those charges later dropped with no explanation; recent prominent cases include those of Sherry Chen, Guoqing Cao, and Shuyu Li. Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus joined over 40 members of Congress, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and numerous civil rights and community organizations to call for an independent investigation into whether there was undue reliance on race, ethnicity, or national origin in these cases.

“The government has still provided no investigation or explanation for its botched prosecutions,” said Christina Sinha, National Security & Civil Rights Staff Attorney and Program Manager at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “There is an alarming trend occurring here that fits into a broader history of racial and religious profiling in the name of national security.”

From the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, to targeting and surveillance of Chinese Americans during the McCarthy era, to the post-9/11 profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities, communities have continued over time to face unjust surveillance and targeting by law enforcement as national security threats. Over 15 years ago, Taiwanese American scientist Wen Ho Lee was falsely accused of spying for China and locked in solitary confinement for 9 months.

For more information regarding the case, please contact Professor Xi’s attorneys: David Rudovsky, Jonathan Feinberg or Susan Lin at 215-925-4400.

For more information about the targeting of Chinese Americans in the name of national security, or for a list of experts in this area, contact Elica Vafaie or Christina Sinha at 415-896-1701.


Advancing Justice – ALC was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, Advancing Justice – ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Visit www.advancingjustice-alc.org.