by Peter Mertz
DENVER, the United States, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Lawyers for embattled award-winning Chinese American climatologist Sherry Chen said Trump administration officials would delay her justice and redemption.
Chen's attorney Steven Simon told Xinhua Friday that the four-year ordeal for her would extend after Trump administration officials announced last week they would appeal a judge decision that supported Chen again.
"Instead of acknowledging their misconduct, the DOC (Department of Commerce) has appealed the judge's decision, which could delay justice for Sherry for years," Simon said.
Two months ago judge Michelle Schroeder issued a ruling calling Chen a "victim of gross injustice," and ordered the National Weather Service (NSW) to rehire her and repay her lost salary plus benefits.
Chen, 59, was first accused of espionage and fired in 2014 only to have all charges dropped prior to a 2015 trial. In 2016, she was fired from her job again, and appealed her case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) where Schroeder ruled staunchly in her favor.
"The Department has chosen to draw out this case indefinitely," California congresswoman Judy Chu said in a statement last week to the recent DOC appeal. "Ms. Chen's life has been completely upended by false accusations of espionage, lengthy investigations, and her (DOC) termination."
In New York, congresswoman Grace Meng called on the DOC to "drop its appeal and reinstate her immediately."
Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin said, "her whole case bears the whiff of an ethnically charged frame-up and rush to judgment," and congresswoman Nydia Velazquez from New York called Chen a "victim of racial profiling."
Back in 2016, Chen became a national celebrity for unjust Justice Department prosecutions after TV news program 60 Minutes exposed her innocence, record of public service, and 200,000 U.S.dollars in legal fees she has been forced to incur.
As a government hydrologist, Ms. Chen kept farmers and homeowners alerted of possible flooding on the massive Ohio River, working diligently as a civil servant to the great benefit of many Americans. In 2011, she won an award for helping save the city of Cairo, Illinois from record flooding that spring.
Her Washington, DC lawyer Peter Zeidenberg has called Chen "collateral damage" in the U.S. government's economic disputes with China.
Since 2012, the Justice Department has won convictions in only 14 cases related to Chinese economic espionage, according to Zeidenberg.
"I don't want to see all Chinese and (people of) Chinese descent suddenly become suspects, and the case of Chen reeks of this," Stewart King, a former State Department official during the Reagan administration, told Xinhua Saturday, adding that the Trump administration has also targeted other minority groups, including Muslims.
"The fact that they would suspect us stealing secret(s) for China is very offensive," Chen told 60 Minutes. "We're American."
More than 40 members of Congress have called on the Justice Department to conduct an independent investigation of whether Chen was targeted because of race.
The Chen case is strangely unique because in 2015 she had been exonerated on all charges against her. The Double Jeopardy standard, established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896, says an accused person cannot be tried again on the same charges and the same facts following a valid acquittal or conviction.
A Nebraskan and U.S. citizen since 1997, Chen drew the Orwellian microscope of Obama administration officials in 2013 after visiting her aging parents and seeing an old college friend, also a government hydrologist.
Under President Barack Obama, DOJ prosecutions under the Economic Espionage Act jumped more than 30 percent in one year and during the first nine months of 2014 the total increased an additional 33 percent.
In October 2014, FBI agents took Chen away in handcuffs in front of her colleagues, and asked for a 25-year jail term and 1 million U.S. dollars in fines. But prosecutors dropped all the charges that included stealing data and intentionally exceeded authorized access to a database.
"Ms. Chen needs to file an employment discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. government and hit them for several million dollars," said David B Richardson, a Seattle-based attorney, thinking "she has a pretty good case of wrongful termination on the base of national origin."