FBI: American Universities Infected by Foreign Spies

Growing signs of spying on U.S. universities are alarming national security officials. As schools become more global in their locations and student populations, their culture of openness and international collaboration makes them increasingly vulnerable to theft of research conducted for the government and industry.

“We have intelligence and cases indicating that U.S. universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services,” Frank Figliuzzi, Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a February interview in the bureau’s Washington headquarters.

Bringing this into focus locally, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are large research universities attracting many, many foreign students in graduate and undergraduate studies.

ASU President Michael Crow is a member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, established by the FBI and CIA in 2005. “It’s all a little perplexing and overwhelming,” he said. “We’re in the business of trying to recruit more students from China. We’re operating at a total openness mode, while we recognize there are people working beyond the rules to acquire information.”

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