United States of America v. Xiaoxing Xi: Why it Matters

As Interim Chair of Temple University’s Physics Department, May 20, 2015 was a normal day for me filled with work on my class, research, promotion of colleagues, and a university task force I was chairing. I had given a public lecture for “Pint of Science,” a science festival, at an Irish pub before picking up my wife at the airport, who was returning from an overseas conference trip. My elder daughter had come home a day earlier from college for a few days. We made a plan to visit a restaurant to try their famous Korean fried chicken. All of this was suddenly and forever changed a few hours later when I was awoken by the urgent pounding on my door. I was arrested by armed FBI agents and indicted by the U.S. government for sharing protected U.S. company technology with China. The indictment was dismissed in September after it had become clear that I did not share the protected technology with China. My case has raised serious concerns about international collaborations in science and technology, civil rights, and the long-term national security and economic future of the United States.