Risks of Globalization for International Education Community-Spying by Foreign Government Agents

This story has just been sent around by a NAFSA colleague:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-08/american-universities-infected-by-foreign-spies-detected-by-fbi.html. I recall the days when the National Student Association was, in fact, tied to the CIA, and yet this is a serious matter in the current geo-political atmosphere.

As a junior at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, Glenn Duffie Shriver studied at East China Normal University in Shanghai. After graduation, he fell in with Chinese agents, who paid him more than $70,000. At their request, he returned to the U.S. and applied for jobs in the State Department and the CIA. He was sentenced to four years in prison in January 2011 after pleading guilty to conspiring to provide national-defense information to intelligence officers of the People’s Republic of China.

And on the other hand, the story also highlights the need for caution by institutions seeking to expand their global reach by establishing branch campuses and hiring host-country faculty and/or seeking funding from wealthy foreign investors:

Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon contacted the Central Intelligence Agency in late 2009 with an urgent question. The school’s campus in Dubai needed a bailout and an unlikely savior had stepped forward: a Dubai-based company that offered to provide money and students.  Simon was tempted. She also worried that the company, which had investors from Iran and wanted to recruit students from there, might be a front for the Iranian government, she said. If so, an agreement could violate federal trade sanctions and invite enemy spies. The CIA couldn’t confirm that the company wasn’t an arm of Iran’s government. Simon rejected the offer and shut down undergraduate programs in Dubai, at a loss of $3.7 million.

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