Ohio scientist cleared of espionage charges wants her job back

Published: Mar. 14, 2017 at 4:04 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2017 at 5:08 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, OH (FOX19) - A National Weather Service scientist accused of acting as a Chinese spy in 2014 wants her job back.

Xiafen "Sherry" Chen has filed an appeal, a race discrimination and retaliation claim after she was fired for allegedly illegally downloading materials from a private government database while working as a hydrologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Wilmington, Ohio.

Chen was ultimately cleared of all charges.

Chen was arrested at her workplace in October 2014  and indicted on federal charges including theft of government property, illegally accessing a U.S. Government database and making false statements to federal agents.

According a New York Times report, Chen had asked a co-worker for a password to access a national database on dams. She was reportedly trying to help a former classmate in China, who had asked how American dams were funded.

Although the Justice Department dropped the charges, Chen still lost her job.

An administrative judge of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board will begin a two-day hearing on Tuesday to decide the merits of her case.

A rally in support for Chen's case will be held in front of the U.S. Potter Stewart Courthouse on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and in Courtroom 305 at 100 East Fifth Street in Cincinnati from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

"We support Sherry Chen because we don't want such a pattern of wrongly investigating and prosecuting innocent Americans based on their race, ethnicity and national origin," said Xiaojie Shau Zavon, treasurer of the National Council of Chinese Americans and co-organizer.

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