Chinese Scientist Accused of Smuggling Biological Material Lab Samples from the US


(NY Times) – Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside. Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Under questioning, court documents say, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that he had stolen eight of the samples and had replicated 11 more based on a colleague’s research. When he returned to China, he said, he would take the samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and turbocharge his career by publishing the results in China, under his own name.

Mr. Zheng’s theft “was not an isolated incident,” prosecutors stated in the motion to hold him without bail. “Rather, it appears to have been a coordinated crime, with likely involvement by the Chinese government, as two other Chinese nationals working in the same lab have also stolen biological materials and smuggled them out of the United States.”

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