Doctor charged with possession of child porn being investigated for espionage

By Mario Diaz - Reporter

HOUSTON - “My response was, 'Oh, my God, not MD Anderson, of all places.'”

This was the initial response by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-10th District, who is also the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, regarding a federal investigation into Dr. Keping Xie, a former researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The NBC News Investigative Unit reported early Tuesday morning that Xie is at the center of a federal investigation into espionage.

McCaul confirmed the investigation to Channel 2 Investigates, saying, “I got briefed on this investigation several months ago.”

McCaul provided more details and the scope of the allegations, saying, “This is a systematic effort by the Chinese government to get into our medical facilities, our research development facilities, academics as well.”

Xie, who is also facing a charge of possessing child pornography, did not answer the door to his home Tuesday morning. In a statement, MD Anderson said the former researcher was not involved in patient care.

“As a result of an investigation by The University of Texas Police at Houston, he currently is under criminal indictment for charges unrelated to intellectual property theft," MD Anderson said in a statement.

Xie’s attorney, Nathan Mays, said, “We are not aware of any investigation into him regarding espionage.”

Tom Winter, a reporter with the NBC News Investigative Unit, said key questions remain unanswered.

“I think, when you look at a particular case like this, you have to wonder: Is somebody acting alone or is somebody acting with other people as well?” Winter said.

McCaul said annually $600 billion of intellectual property is stolen from the United States, “The foreign counter intelligence agents are very concerned about the Chinese threat in the United States, stealing this intellectual property but mostly the threat to our academic and research institutions."

Houston’s vast research achievements in energy and medicine makes our city a primary target according to Tom Winter of the NBC News Investigative Unit, “When you look at the type of research that is being done in Houston, whether it be in the medical field, whether it be in technology or in the oil and natural gas fields, they are all enticing to anybody, particularly China.”

Carlyn Burton is a chemist and intellectual property attorney with Osha Liang LLP.

Burton told Channel 2 Investigates she has seen a rise Houston-area corporations taking proactive countermeasures, “There is certainly a concentration, because of the industry that is here. Those industries have to take those steps in order to succeed.”

Burton said companies are not only protecting themselves from rogue employees but also rogue organizations, “Hackers are more sophisticated and therefore the steps that a company has to do to protect themselves also must increase.”

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