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Wen Ho Lee: Unemployed

Former government researcher Wen Ho Lee says he hasn't found a job since he was fired and prosecuted for making copies of sensitive nuclear weapons data.

"I have tried to get a job in both the university and industry setting, but so far I have not been able to locate a job," Lee said in an interview in the July issue of the American Physical Society News.

"I am currently doing my own research on semiconductor design. I hope that someday I can make a contribution to the electronics industry."

Lee, responding to written questions submitted by the online publication through an intermediary, said foreign-born scientists face difficulties getting jobs requiring security clearance.

"I feel that racial profiling may be a very complicated and long-standing problem," he said. "It will take a long time even to make tiny progress."

The Lee investigation caused nearly two years of controversy over the alleged loss of nuclear secrets to China and lax security at the Energy Department's nuclear weapons laboratories.

Lee, who has been a U.S. citizen since 1974 and spent 20 years doing top-secret work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was held in solitary confinement for nine months, though never charged with spying. He pleaded guilty in September 2000 to a single count of downloading sensitive data to unsecured computer tape and was sentenced to time served.

Lee has said he made tape copies of codes to protect his access to his work after a computer malfunction destroyed or damaged several files.

"I used the best technique that I knew to protect my files," Lee told the science publication. He said the worst punishment he had ever heard of for such violations was barring an employee from work requiring a security clearance.

Lee has an unlisted number and could not be reached for further comment. Phyllis Hedges, a Los Alamos attorney and Lee family friend, said Friday that he still has had no luck in finding a job in the weeks since he made his comments to the publication.

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