To: President Obama and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Obama, DOJ: Stop reckless prosecutions based on race

Cease the unjust criminal prosecutions of Asian Americans for economic espionage, publicly apologize to those who have been wrongfully targeted, and investigate whether there is an underlying pattern and practice of racial bias by the Department of Justice

Why is this important?

Xiaoxing Xi was expecting a normal day of work on May 21, 2015. He had no idea he would be awakened that morning by federal law enforcement banging on his door. With guns drawn, FBI agents invaded his home, arrested and handcuffed him in front of his wife and daughters, and charged him with far-fetched allegations of sharing American secrets with China. Months later, all the charges were dropped.

Sherry Chen did not know what was coming either on October 20, 2014 when she was handcuffed by six FBI agents at her office and paraded past her coworkers at the National Weather Service for espionage-related charges. The government dropped all charges against her too, but her trauma is not over, as the Department of Commerce also fired her as a result of the episode.

As highlighted in troubling detail in a recent 60 Minutes piece [1], the U.S. government has been engaging in a pattern of reckless criminal prosecutions against Asian Americans. In the last 18 months, at least four Chinese American scientists have faced the full force of the federal government in espionage-related cases only to later have all charges against them dropped with no explanation or apology.

Xiaoxing Xi and Sherry Chen are everyday people whose lives have been upended because they were falsely labeled and treated like spies for China. These high profile cases have damaged their lives and professional reputations, and their families have suffered financially and psychologically.

Federal law enforcement’s overzealous criminalization of Asian Americans without proper due diligence is a shocking abuse of power. None of these scientists passed secrets to China, and there would have been no grounds to pursue these cases had prosecutors properly consulted with scientific experts beforehand.

To date, the U.S. government has not acknowledged any wrongdoing in these cases, despite calls for an investigation into this pattern of mistreatment from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights [2], the New York Times [3], the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus [4], and national advocacy organizations [5]. This is unacceptable.

This pattern of mistreatment must stop. We demand an investigation of the Department of Justice to identify policies and practices that allowed these wrongful prosecutions to occur. In particular, the investigation should examine whether federal prosecutors and investigators improperly rely on race, ethnicity, or national origin in its efforts to combat espionage. Furthermore, the scientists who were wrongfully prosecuted and their families deserve a public apology from the federal government.

Asian Americans have faced this pattern of discrimination many times in U.S. history -- these reckless prosecutions are just the latest manifestation of being treated as untrustworthy outsiders in this country. As tensions between the U.S. and China rise, Asian Americans should not be subject to discriminatory surveillance, investigation or prosecution. No American should be held under suspicion due to their race, ethnicity or national origin.

Now is our chance to show that the federal government cannot remain silent in the face of injustice. The more of us that sign this petition, the harder it will be for them to ignore us. Together, we can move one step closer to ending the unjust profiling of Americans on the basis of their racial or ethnic identity.

For more information, visit: www.scientistsnotspies.org

[1] 60 Minutes, May 15, 2016: http://cbsn.ws/1ZUUNXh
[2] U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' Letter to DOJ, Nov 18, 2015: http://bit.ly/1TNwV8e
[3] New York Times,“The Rush to Find China's Moles", Sept 15, 2015: http://nyti.ms/1S1KIDi
[4] Members of Congress' Letter to DOJ, Nov 5, 2015: http://1.usa.gov/1qk4we1
[5] Asian American, civil rights and civil liberties groups letter to DOJ, Nov 16, 2015: http://bit.ly/1XrHXPf

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Reasons for signing

  • Because it matters for everyone in this country.

Updates

2016-05-18 15:56:35 -0700

1,000 signatures reached

2016-05-17 14:51:38 -0700

500 signatures reached

2016-05-16 10:44:26 -0700

100 signatures reached

2016-05-16 08:14:30 -0700

50 signatures reached

2016-05-15 20:56:33 -0700

25 signatures reached

2016-05-13 23:40:34 -0700

10 signatures reached