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China’s Notorious Thousand Talents Program – Equal Opportunity Recruiter

So, when it was widely reported that a Los Alamos (U.S. Department of Energy) scientist who pled “not guilty” (about 10 days ago) to lying about his alleged recruitment and acceptance into China’s infamous “Thousand Talents Program”, I thought, “Well, nothing unusual there.”

*See the following links for more information about China’s Thousand Talents Program:

Is the Chinese Government-Sanctioned “Thousand Talents Rewards Program” a Vehicle for Trade Secrets Thieves?



Except, when I looked at the name of the accused: TURAB LOOKMAN. I thought, “Well, that’s certainly not a typical Chinese sounding name. What’s the story here?”

As it turns out TURAB LOOKMAN is a 67-year-old computations physics expert born in India. (According to the Associated Press/Tulsa World, he moved from India to Britain with his family when he was 13. He then moved to Canada as a young adult after finishing school, and then came to the United States. He began working for Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1999, according to the lab’s website. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2008.”


Now, I thought, “So, China’s Thousand Talents Program doesn’t just encourage ethnic Chinese to bring what they have stolen from the West to China, but other ethnic groups as well?”

According to the indictment, apparently so.


The accused was allegedly asked variations of the following question on three (3) occasions between 2017 and 2018:


“Have you ever been recruited by or applied for a job (for personal compensation), either full or part-time, as a consultant/academic/collaborator/adjunct, underwritten by the PRC and/or the Thousand Talents Program, or any company or university within China?”

According to the indictment, “The statement and representation were false because, as the defendant, TURAB LOOKMAN, then and there well knew, he had been recruited by, applied for, and been accepted to participate in China’s Thousand Talents Program for personal compensation.


This is not a huge surprise, after all, why would the Chinese government care whom the stolen IP came from.

And, although LOOKMAN, as far as we know, has not been charged with trade secrets theft, it just never occurred to me that China’s “Thousand Talents Rewards Program” could be a vehicle for non-ethnic Chinese to potentially market stolen IP too.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

1 comment on “China’s Notorious Thousand Talents Program – Equal Opportunity Recruiter

  1. Pingback: So…What is the China-Espionage “Thousand Grains of Sand” Theory? – IP PI BLOG

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