Federal investigators probing economic espionage for China are scrutinizing a professor at a top cancer research center in Texas who is facing a child pornography charge, multiple U.S. officials briefed on the case told NBC News.
In January, police began investigating Keping Xie, 55, then a gastroenterology professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, in connection with suspected fraud. They seized devices that held known images of child pornography, according to court documents.
Xie's attorney said he denies the child pornography charge he faces and that 40 terrabytes of data were seized from Xie's house in the raid. He was unaware of a federal espionage investigation into his client.
U.S. intelligence has linked Chinese science recruiting program "Thousand Talents," which Xie took part in, to espionage. U.S. officials say the research industry is one of several in Houston that have drawn the interest of Chinese spies.