U.S. alleges Stanford researcher concealed connection to Chinese army

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury has indicted a Stanford University medical researcher for allegedly concealing and lying about her membership of the Chinese military.

In an indictment expanding on charges filed in January, the Justice Department accused Chen Song, a Stanford researcher who it said had described herself as a neurologist investigating brain disease, with visa fraud, obstruction of justice, destruction of documents, and making false statements as part of a scheme to conceal her membership of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

“We allege that while Chen Song worked as a researcher at Stanford University, she was secretly a member of China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army,” said David L. Anderson, the chief federal prosecutor based in San Francisco, on Friday.

Defense lawyers representing Song could not immediately be reached for comment.

The new indictment alleged that Song, a 39-year-old Chinese citizen, entered the United States in December 2018, using a non-immigrant visa authorizing her to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs as a Stanford researcher.

In her visa application, Song said she served in the Chinese military between Sept. 1, 2000 and June 30, 2011 and that she was a student at a hospital in Beijing.

Prosecutors said these Song claims were “lies” and that she was a member of the PLA when she arrived and remained in the United States. The Justice Department also alleged that the Beijing hospital Song listed as her employer on her visa application “was a cover for her true employer, the PLA Air Force General Hospital in Beijing.”

Prosecutors said that Song lied to FBI agents about her membership of the PLA and that after learning of the FBI’s interest in her, she began deleting materials from the internet related to her military service.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien