Prosecutors drop charges against 2 La. scientists accused of trying to steal trade secrets

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal prosecutors on Monday moved to drop charges against two prominent Louisiana scientists who were arrested last month on accusations of trying to steal trade secrets from their former employer.

Reports show that prosecutors asked to a judge to dismiss the case against Ehab Meselhe and Kelin Hu.

Prosecutors wrote in a court filing that they concluded after an extensive investigation that they cannot meet the “burden of proof in this matter.”

The newspaper reported the reversal came after questions were raised about the case.

Prosecutors had initially alleged the pair had attempted to steal intellectual property from the Water Institute of the Gulf, where both previously worked, by downloading a complex computer model of the lower Mississippi River called the Basin Wide Model.

Mike Magner, an attorney for Meselhe, said investigators overlooked emails and other evidence that suggested the scientists did nothing wrong. Magner also argued in a court filing that the Basin Wide Model is public property of the state of Louisiana and not a Water Institute trade secret.

Magner said he thanked the U.S. attorney for doing the “right thing” in the case and suggested some initial witnesses had misled prosecutors.

“We are thrilled beyond measure for Dr. Meselhe and his family that he has finally been vindicated,” Magner told the paper Monday evening.

Both scientists now work at Tulane University.

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