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Fugitive Chinese military researcher ordered held in Sacramento jail as flight risk

Tang Juan in a Chinese military uniform. (U.S. District Court/Released)

The former UC Davis visiting researcher from China who has been accused of lying about her ties to the Chinese military was ordered Monday to remain in the Sacramento County Jail as a flight risk.

Juan Tang, 37, is charged with fraud and misuse of visas over answers she gave U.S. authorities to enter the country late last year to begin work as a cancer researcher at UC Davis.

Tang allegedly lied about her ties to China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the Chinese Communist Party, and after FBI agents questioned her at her Davis apartment she fled into hiding inside the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

The FBI subsequently took her into custody Thursday night and she was booked into the Main Jail last Friday.

In a brief initial appearance conducted Monday via Zoom, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Barnes ordered Tang to remain in custody at least until her federal defender can propose conditions that might allow her release.

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Barnes said she found Tang “at a minimum” to be a flight risk “and as such I’m going to order you detained.”

Tang is one of four Chinese researchers who studied at UC San Francisco, Stanford University, Indiana University and UC Davis to be charged with allegedly lying about their ties to the Chinese military.

The Justice Department says the cases are part of a nationwide investigation in more than 25 cities of alleged efforts by Chinese researchers bent on observing U.S. laboratory practices so they could be replicated in China.

Tang, who arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Dec. 27 to begin her work, listened to the court session through a Mandarin interpreter and is scheduled for another court date Aug. 10.

She could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.

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© 2020 The Sacramento Bee