Whistleblower suit alleges Caltech ignored concerns about Israeli espionage in NASA lab
- A whistleblower suit filed against the California Institute of Technology by applied physics professor Sandra Troian alleges the institution, fearful of losing an $8 billion NASA contract, overlooked reports of an Israeli spy working at a campus research facility.
- Amir Gat, a former postdoctoral research scholar from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, allegedly shared classified research from the Caltech-managed NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a doctoral adviser at Technion, who the suit says also works for Israel’s National Steering Committee for Space Infrastructure of the Ministry of Science, Inside Higher Ed reports.
- Gat and officials at the institution claim Troian filed the suit as a result of a negative research misconduct investigation against her.
Troian's suit also claims that Gat posted sensitive details about the system in 65 different posts online and was once found wandering alone in a restricted-access area. If true, these actions would violate security agreements signed with the lab, as well as federal law, since funding for the project came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Additionally, Gat is alleged to have saved information related to the project on a personal computer and attacked Troian's computer with a virus that siphoned hundreds of files to an outside IP address, among other things.
According to Troian, administrators repeatedly ignored her concerns in 2010, not wanting to jeopardize the NASA contract or the university's name, and despite talking to the FBI, she didn't sign an affidavit out of fear of retaliation. Caltech, however, says Troian's suit is retaliation for "a recent internal campus investigation into her decision to list her cat as the author of a published abstract and omit recognition of a postdoctoral scholar who performed related research, suffered no retaliation and remains an active faculty member of the institution.”
Yes, you read that right. Higher ed, rocket science, espionage, and cats have all finally converged in one story.
- Inside Higher Ed Rocket Science Espionage?
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