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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 28, 2020

University of Virginia Researcher Charged with Theft of Trade Secrets and Computer Intrusion

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Haizhou Hu, a Chinese national conducting research at the University of Virginia, was arrested today and charged via criminal complaint with a pair of federal crimes just days after he attempted to board a flight to China. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division announced the arrest.

Hu, 34, is charged with accessing a computer without authorization, or exceeding authorization to obtain information from a protected computer and theft of trade secrets.

According to court documents, investigators first became aware of Hu, who is in the United States conducting research studying bio-mimics and fluid dynamics at the University of Virginia, on August 25, 2020 when he attempted to board a flight to China at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. A routine screening conducted by authorities revealed that Hu was alleged to be in possession of bio-inspired research simulation software code that he was not authorized to possess, and which represented the result of years of research and resources in its development by members of the University of Virginia academic community.

 The investigation of the case is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh are prosecuting the case for the United States.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.       

Updated August 28, 2020