Asian American Civil Rights Group Applauds Acquittal of University Tennessee Professor Unjustly Prosecuted Under the “China Initiative”

Today, a federal judge from Eastern District of Tennessee acquitted all charges against University of Tennessee (UT) Engineering Professor Anming Hu
For Immediate Release
Vivin Qiang 202-780-9327

Knoxville, TN - Today, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee acquitted University of Tennessee (UT) Engineering Professor Anming Hu of all charges after his trial resulted in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. Dr. Hu’s case was the first to go to trial under the controversial U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “China Initiative.” The decision came after the U.S. government’s announcement to retry the case in July despite serious concerns voiced by elected officials, civil rights groups, and the Asian American community over the FBI’s conduct during the course of its investigation of Dr. Hu. 

John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, issues the following statement:

“We commend the well-reasoned decision of the federal district court, which recognized that the evidence presented clearly was insufficient to allow a reasonable jury to convict Dr. Hu of the crimes alleged. We thank the efforts of so many civil rights organizations and concerned community members who have worked tirelessly to see that justice is done. Dr. Hu is finally free to return to his life and be reunited with his family. We want to lift up the tremendous engagement of local Tennessee organizations such as Tennessee Chinese American Alliance, Greater Nashville Chinese Association, the Knoxville Chinese Christian Church, East Tennessee Chinese/Chinese American Care, and United Chinese Americans – Greater Memphis Chapter who activated local community support in Knoxville in response to this grave injustice.

We also are grateful to Representatives Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, Jamie Raskin, and others for their leadership in combatting racial profiling against Asian American and Asian immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars, including a letter spearheaded by Representative Lieu with 90 bicameral signatories to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting a DOJ investigation on alleged FBI misconduct in Dr. Hu’s case, letters from Representatives Chu and Lieu to the DOJ Inspector General, and Representatives Chu and Raskin’s leadership in organizing the first Congressional hearing to address the racial profiling and surveillance of Asian American scientists, particularly of Chinese descent.

Although we celebrate this moment, we cannot forget the life-long consequences this injustice has had on Dr. Hu and his family. Dr. Hu has lost years of his life, his job, his immigration status, his ability to obtain future federal grants, and possibly his career. His college-student son fears that he can no longer pursue his dream to study computer science in the U.S., and was forced to abandon his studies at UT. Dr. Hu has two minor children, one of whom is constantly haunted by nightmares that affected his studies, causing him to drop classes and give up his dream of entering the STEM field. The scars of the prosecution and investigation on Dr. Hu and his family are deep and long-lasting.  

What happened to Dr. Hu and his family is not an isolated event and is part of systemic racial bias, discrimination, and profiling by our federal government against scientists and researchers of Asian descent across the country. We must work vigilantly to ensure that what happened to Dr. Hu and his family does not happen again to anyone. Despite being part of the fabric of America for centuries, Asian Americans and immigrants have repeatedly borne the brunt of racial discrimination and resurgent xenophobia when geopolitical tensions — however legitimate — arise. We must put a stop to the racial profiling and the criminalization of our communities today, starting with ending the “China Initiative.”