Temple University professor Xiaoxing Xi — who was accused of sharing private scientific technology with China before charges were dropped in 2015 — is now seeking reinstatement of damage claims against the FBI.
Lawyers representing Xi and his wife asked a Philadelphia appeals court to reinstate his lawsuit against the United States government in a brief filed Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Xi first filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government in 2017, where he accused FBI agents of illegal searches and seizures, as well as racial discrimination, Temple News reported.
Last year, R. Barclay Surrick, a Philadelphia federal judge, dismissed nine of Xi's 10 claims. A final claim against FBI surveillance of Xi and his family is still pending, the Inquirer reported.
“When law enforcement agents abuse the legal process by obtaining indictments and search warrants based on misrepresentations or by fabricating evidence, it undermines the legitimacy of the courts,” Xi’s legal team wrote in the brief, according to the Inquirer.
Xi, a U.S. citizen from China and an expert in thin-film superconducting technology, was arrested in his home and taken into custody while his wife and daughters were held at gun-point, the Inquirer reported. FBI agents accused Xi of sharing sensitive information about a superconductor device called a “pocket heater" with academic colleagues in China.
Temple subsequently placed Xi on temporary leave from his position as interim chair of the physics department.
The charges against Xi were dropped in September 2015 and the Justice Department dismissed his case. The intercepted emails the FBI used as evidence against Xi actually referred to a different kind of superconductor technology that has been in the public domain for years, according to a brief released by the ACLU.
In the lawsuit, Xi alleged that the FBI falsely obtained evidence against him, misunderstood the science behind the technology involved in the case, and racially profiled him, the Inquirer reported.
“Professor Xi and his family are entitled to judicial relief for the clear violations of their basic constitutional rights. We believe that the courts have a fundamental duty to provide remedies for false prosecutions of innocent persons,” civil rights attorney and Penn Law senior fellow David Rudovsky said. Rudovsky practices law with Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feinberg & Lin, LLP — the law firm representing Xi.
The case against Xi occurred three years before an enforcement program which the Justice Department in 2015 called the China Initiative, which seeks to mitigate Chinese espionage and has targeted suspects including researchers at universities and hospitals, according to The Washington Post.
“Professor Xi’s case involved egregious and wrongful discrimination, culminating in a baseless prosecution. His case is not an isolated one, and is in fact emblematic of the FBI’s targeting of Chinese American scientists across many years. We’re disappointed with the court’s decision," Ashley Gorski, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said.