Former professor receives travel ban
A former Peking University economics professor who is being sued for claiming that professors at the university had sexually harassed waitresses working on campus said on Wednesday that he is being prevented from leaving the country.
Zou Hengfu, who worked for the university from 1998 until his dismissal in 2007, wrote on his Sina Weibo micro blog that he had been prevented from flying to the United States for a family reunion on Wednesday morning.
He said Beijing Capital International Airport had stopped him flying on the order of the Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing, which is dealing with the lawsuit.
In 2012, Zou alleged that waitresses at the Mengtaoyuan Restaurant on the university campus had suffered harassment from college employees, including deans and directors. The allegations gained public attention and a strong reaction from the university, which later filed a lawsuit against Zou, who now works for the World Bank, accusing him of defamation.
“I’ve already acknowledged the lawsuit, so I don’t know why the court still prevented me from leaving to celebrate Christmas with my family,” Zou said on his micro blog.
“I negotiated with the court, and my wife even wrote a letter to the judges, hoping they would let me leave based on ethical considerations, but there was no response,” he wrote.
On Wednesday evening, the court replied to Zou’s online statements via its official website, saying it issued the travel ban on Dec 15. It said it had replied to Zou’s travel request, sending a written response to his lawyer, Guo Kewei, on Tuesday.
It had rejected Zou’s application to leave the country, it explained, because it wished to ensure the court case proceeded smoothly, and further claimed that Zou has been lax in communications regarding the pending case.
The court said that it has been unable to make proper contact with Zou in many ways regarding the case since it was filed in September 2012.
In the past year, the court claims, it has tried to send legal materials to Zou by mail, telephone and even a foreign postal delivery, but it had not received any response from him as of July 29 this year.
In response to a request from the university, the court decided to place a foreign travel ban on the former professor.
Jiang Langlang, spokesman for the university, said the institution intends to proceed with the lawsuit against its former employee.
But Zhao Hongmei, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said the court’s travel ban was excessive, and that legislators should clarify what sorts of people should be subjected to such measures.
“Not all people, I think, should be prevented from traveling if they have a lawsuit against them, or else it will involve too many people,” she said.
“If a defendant can provide a guarantee for the plaintiff, his or her exit application should be allowed.”