Chinese-born American physicist Xiaoxing Xi was awarded the American Physical Society’s Andrei Sakharov Prize on Tuesday for “steadfast advocacy in support of the U.S. scientific community and open scientific exchange.”
In May 2015, Xi, a professor and then chair of the physics department at Temple University in Philadelphia, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice on espionage charges. In an embarrassing mix-up for the justice department and the FBI, the blueprint they had accused Xi of illegally sharing with Chinese scientists was not for a pocket heater — used in superconductor research — but for a different device Xi had invented and shared as part of normal academic collaboration.
The case was dropped in September the same year. Xi is now suing the lead FBI agent involved in his case for falsifying evidence. The case caused Xi to lose his position as chair of the physics department, lose several grants, and brought his family to near financial ruin due to the high cost of legal fees.