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FBI warns Texas academic leaders of security threats

August 8, 2018

In an unprecedented gathering, FBI officials warned top leaders of Texas academic and medical institutions Wednesday about security threats from foreign adversaries, the first step in a new initiative the agency plans to bring around the country.

The gathering, attended by more than 100 academic officials from the Texas Medical Center and around the state, focused on how the institutions can better partner with the FBI to prevent the theft of intellectual property and research, often involving “inside threats” on campus.

“This elusive, yet deliberate theft of American research for the benefit of a foreign country’s economy strikes directly at our own economy,” Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner, said in a statement. “Our economic security is inherently tied to our national security.”

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Donald Lichay, FBI supervisory special agent, said the agency “really wanted the institutions to hear some of the information we’ve collected so they’d believe the threat is real.” He said in the past there has often been friction between academic institutions and the bureau.

Lichay said the threat to academic and medical institutions is growing.

The FBI officials said they choose Houston as the initiative’s starting location because the city is an “epicenter of world-class and renowned academic and research institutions.”

todd.ackerman@chron.com

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