CHINA–Chinese authorities in early July brought charges of espionage against American activist Harry Wu, whose documentation of Chinese human-rights abuses has appeared frequently in U.S. media.
Wu, 58, was arrested June 19 at the China-Kazakhstan border, although U.S. State Department officials said he had a valid passport and Chinese entry visa.
U.S. officials were not allowed to contact Wu and were misled as to his whereabouts until pressure from Washington prompted China to allow a meeting between Wu and the American consulate, according to the State Department. He was held for 20 days without access to American consular officials, which is a violation of both international law and consular treaties between the United States and China.
State Department officials have said that China is holding Wu in response to the U.S. government’s decision to allow a visit by the Taiwanese president.
Wu could be sentenced to death if found guilty of the charges against him, which include traveling to places not open to foreigners, buying secrets, stealing secret documents and carrying secrets abroad to sell them to organizations.
Last year, Wu documented the execution of Chinese prisoners and forced removal of their organs for transplant in a story widely reported by U.S. media. He also wrote an autobiography, titled “Bitter Winds,” that criticizes harsh conditions in Chinese prison work camps. Some of the documentation from his investigations into human rights abuses have been shown on U.S. and British television.
Both the U.S. House and Senate have passed resolutions which condemn China’s actions and call for the Clinton administration to take all diplomatic measures to secure Wu’s release. Some legislators have called for a revocation of China’s Most Favored Nation trading status.
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