Washington, D.C. (Feb. 22, 2016) – Thursday, at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley, Calif.), the lead Democrat on the subcommittee, questioned Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey. He specifically asked about the shameful treatment of Sherry Chen, a NOAA employee, and Dr. Xiaoxing Xi, Chairman of the Physics Department at Temple University.
Xi and Chen, American citizens of Chinese ancestry, were accused of spying for China by the Department of Justice and FBI in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Both were arrested and fully investigated based on false and flimsy evidence. Both eventually had their cases completely dropped by the Department of Justice, with no charges being filed.
“What is it that you are doing to ensure that these factors, such as race, religion, ethnicity or national origin, play no role in the arrests your agency makes, including the idea that folks are speaking a different language at work and that causing some sense of suspicion?” said Honda, during his questioning.
“The way we ensure it doesn’t happen is the kind of people we hire, the way we train them, the way we oversee them and our interaction with the courts,” said Comey.
Honda also called on Comey to apologize for the treatment of Xi and Chen, saying, “There has to be some sort of apology for these folks who have been put through this, losing their jobs. We’re trying to seek some sort of justice for the folks who have been unfairly targeted.”
Comey declined, saying, “Your request for an apology is an assumption about a case I cannot comment on, unfortunately.”
Honda moved on to other questioning, but released the following statement, after the hearing:
“Director Comey had a chance to do the right thing today. I hope that he will take that chance I gave him, and apologize to these honorable people. Theirs are just two of many cases where racial profiling has hurt our nation, and its people, through injustice. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the Congressional Asian Pacific America Caucus to fight for their names to be fully cleared, and for no other innocent person to be made to suffer as they have.”