Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Daughter of former Los Alamos scientist speaks at Memorial Union

Alberta Lee spoke in Memorial Union Monday about her father, a former nuclear scientist who was an alleged victim of racial profiling in a story that made national headlines.

Lee used her family as an example for students to be politically active.

Lee said she remained globally unaware until the FBI accused her father, Dr. Wen Ho Lee, of espionage and imprisoned him in solitary confinement for nine months.

Lee told UW-Madison students that U.S. officials have been accused of using Taiwanese Dr. Lee as a scapegoat due to fears that the Chinese government had obtained nuclear secrets.

Lee, 28, described Dr. Lee as “a typical Chinese father” and said her parents tried to hide the situation from her.

“Being the only daughter, they really wanted me to not worry about things,” she said. ”

At first Dr. Lee, who was working for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, met voluntarily with FBI agents, who enlisted his help for an investigation of an information leak to China.

“As trusting and helpful as my dad is, he was like, ‘Sure, I’ll help you,'” she said. “So, for months and months and months, he met with these agents.”

However, in March 1999, Dr. Lee discovered that it was he who was being investigated, while the FBI maintained they were trying to help him.

The family hired a lawyer after The New York Times wrote an article about Dr. Lee as a spy suspect. Alberta Lee said Dr. Lee was fired the day after the article ran because his company was under political pressure to find a spy.

In December 1999, Dr. Lee was indicted. Alberta Lee said she felt like an “enemy of the state” and would do anything to help her father, despite lack of legal expertise. She began touring the United States to speak about her father’s injustice. Meanwhile, lawyers began to prove incompetence of the FBI, who said ethnicity was the only factor in the arrest.

Lee said the ordeal made her faith in the justice system diminish.

“I used to think, ‘If there’s smoke, there’s fire,’ but I know better now,” she said. “I saw the government invent a case against my father.”

The Lee family is suing the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Department of Energy. Dr. Lee released a book in January detailing his experiences.

Lee ended the talk by telling students they can make a difference. She urged the audience to become politically active and community-conscious.

Junior Monique DeBroux said she felt inspired by Lee’s speech.

“I had heard about this case a month ago, and I thought I’d come check it out,” she said. “I can’t believe that things like this still happen today.”

The groups Asian Pacific-American Law Students Association and South Asian Law Students Association sponsored the talk, where Lee expressed surprise at how liberal Madison is.

“I had no idea how down-to-earth everyone is, how friendly everyone is,” she said.

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