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US University sponsored Indian professor arrested for DNA theft


Houston, April 8, 2005

A visiting Indian scientist in a US university has been held for allegedly stealing vials containing DNA pieces of a tuberculosis organism and computer discs containing research material.

Singh Lakshman Meena, 33, a research scientist at the University of Central Florida (UCF), has been made to give up his passport after spending nearly two weeks in jail, media reports said. Meena was arrested on March 22, two days before he planned to leave for India, on charges of offence against intellectual property, petty theft and obstruction by false information.

The UCF professor of Biology, Meena, who has been on a year-long research fellowship at the university sponsored by the government of India, was ordered in court on Tuesday to remain in the Orange County area and surrender his passport. The bail for him was set at USD 3,500. The Dean of the Biomedical Sciences Department of the University claimed Meena stole the material and has to be held responsible. He said the material could be used in bio-terrorism.

Meena has been accused of taking eight vials of cloned DNA pieces from a tuberculosis organism that could be used to develop drugs to fight TB, police said. (PTI)


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