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Xiaoxing Xi, a U.S. citizen who chairs the physics department at Temple University in Philadelphia is facing four counts of wire fraud charges after information revealed by the Justice Dept. showed that Xi had been relaying top-secret information to Beijing.
From the Philadelphia Business Journal:
Xi, 47, a world-renowned expert in the superconductivity field, took a sabbatical during the 2002-03 school year to work for an unidentified American company in the field of thin film superconductivity research, according to the indictment. At that time, he was a Penn State University professor. He joined Temple in 2009.
During the sabbatical, the firm invented a device, “which revolutionized the field of superconducting magnesium diboride thin film growth,” the indictment said. Superconductors conduct electricity with zero resistance, which improves the efficiency of certain technology.
Xi then allegedly spent the next 10 years trying to obtain the company’s technology for Chinese associates in exchange for prestigious positions there.
Meanwhile, Temple University has not dismissed Xi. He remains an employee while the University conducts an investigation on its own.
“We are aware of the charges and look forward to talking with Dr. Xi about the matter,” Temple said in a statement.
An updated statement from the university was issued late Friday morning: “In light of Dr. Xi’s needs to focus on the matter at hand, an acting chair has been appointed to the Physics Department. Dr. Xi remains a member of the faculty.”
It’s been a bang-up year for Temple. Its most famous alumni, Bill Cosby, has become a national embarrassment after what seems like weekly accusations of rape. Now, its physics department chair is a Chinese spy. The media relations department at Temple is going to have to put in some extra legwork because outside of those two things, the only other fact I know about Temple University is that it’s the fourth or fifth best university in Philadelphia and was once kicked out of the Big East because no one liked them.
Xi’s profile remains on Temple’s website which you can view here, despite these charges being filed last Thursday..
Image via Temple University