China university denies US espionage charges of three staff members

The US Justice Department announced charges against six Chinese people on Tuesday, for stealing technology often used in military systems. Three of the six are staff at China's Tianjin University.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, May 2014. The US Justice Department announced charges against six Chinese people on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

A Chinese university denied on Thursday U.S. espionage charges filed against three of its staff who are among six Chinese people the United States has accused of stealing technology often used in military systems.

The U.S. Justice Department announced the charges against the six on Tuesday, the third time in as many years that U.S. authorities have made accusations of economic espionage conducted on behalf of China, an issue Washington has termed a top national security concern.

Three of the six are staff at China's Tianjin University.

The university denied the charges and said the United States had done harm to academic exchanges by "politicizing" a scientific dispute, the website of the ruling Communist Party-controlled China Youth Daily reported.

Hao Zhang, a professor at Tianjin University, was arrested on Saturday in Los Angeles after he arrived on a flight from China. The other five suspects are believed to be in China.

Zhang and the other two professors from the university were charged with stealing source code and other proprietary information from chipmakers Avago Technologies Ltd and Skyworks Solutions Inc, where two of them had worked.

The university said it attached great importance to academic ethics and had a zero tolerance toward academic misconduct.

It said it strongly condemned "unprovoked accusations" that harmed its reputation, adding it reserved the right to use legal means to preserve the school's good name.

The university said it would provide humanitarian and legal aid to Zhang and his family in the United States.

Chinese state media called on the Chinese government to respond more strongly to the case, calling the United States paranoid.

The Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was checking the details of the case and it was concerned about the charges.

"The crime of espionage is the charge most abused by America," said the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper.

"These cases show that the U.S. is becoming paranoid about China's rise," the paper said in a separate English-language editorial.

The other Chinese nationals involved in the case were associated with a company called ROFS Microsystems established in Tianjin with secrets stolen from the U.S. companies, according to the Justice Department.

The company's website, previously accessible, could not be loaded on Thursday.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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