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Directorate for Science and Policy Programs
1200 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-326-6600
Fax: 202-289-4950

February 29, 2000

The Honorable Janet Reno
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Room 4545
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Madame Attorney General:

I write on behalf of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science concerning the matter of the continued denial of bail and the conditions of pre-trial incarceration of Dr. Wen Ho Lee. The AAAS is the world's largest multi-disciplinary scientific organization. The Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility is charged by the Association to, among other things, address issues related to the human rights of scientists.

Our purpose is to inquire into the reasons for the extraordinarily restrictive conditions to which Dr. Lee has been subjected. Our disquiet with the government's treatment of Dr. Lee does not extend to the issue of his guilt or innocence, which will be decided by our courts on the basis of the evidence. Our concern stems from the possibility that Dr. Lee is being maltreated and may have been the target of special scrutiny because of his ethnic background.

This case has had an adverse impact on many of our colleagues and could damage our national labs as a result of the hemorrhaging of skilled scientists through resignation or attrition, falling recruitment and a decline in the international collaboration that are so vital to the success of DoE programs. There is some evidence that such losses are already occurring.

Our concerns relate to the following:

In sum, we believe it important that the scientific community be given some assurances on these issues. Otherwise, we worry that serious damage could be done to the U.S. scientific enterprise and to this nation's future prosperity and security if the government is perceived by scientists as treating Dr. Lee unfairly and relying on unfounded claims regarding threats to national security.


Irving A. Lerch
Chair, AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility

The Honorable Bill Richardson
Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

Dr. Neal Lane
Assistant to the President for Science & Technology

Dr. Bruce Alberts
President, National Academy of Sciences

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