Amer­i­can ge­ol­o­gist jailed in China re­leased and de­ported: rights group

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

A U.S. ge­ol­o­gist con­victed on state se­crets charges and im­pris­oned in China has been re­leased and re­turned to the United States, a hu­man rights group said.

Xue Feng, who had been serv­ing an eight-year sen­tence in Bei­jing No. 2 Pri­son, was im­me­di­ately de­ported upon leav­ing jail, the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foun­da­tion said in a re­lease dated Fri­day.

The aised Xue’s case with Chi­nese of­fi­cials, said that he ar­rived in the U.S. city of Hous­ton on Fri­day evening.

“Dui Hua is de­lighted that Dr. Xue has fi­nally been re­united with his fam­ily in Amer­ica af­ter a ter­ri­ble or­deal,” the San Fran­cis­cobased group’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor John Kamm said in the re­lease.

The U.S. em­bassy in Bei­jing said in an e-mail it was “aware of re­ports” that Xue had been re­leased, but could add no more due to pri­vacy considerations, di­rect­ing me­dia in­stead to Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties.

China’s state-run Xin­hua news agency did not im­me­di­ately carry any ar­ti­cles on the re­lease. A phone num­ber for the Bei­jing No. 2 Pri­son could not be found and the in­sti­tu­tion’s web­site had no in­for­ma­tion on Xue’s re­lease.

Xue, a Chi­nese- born U. S. cit­i­zen, was first de­tained in Novem­ber 2007 over the sale of a data­base on China’s oil in­dus­try while work­ing for U.S. en­ergy and en­gi­neer­ing con­sult­ing firm IHS.

Me­dia con­tacts at IHS did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to an emailed re­quest for com­ment.

Both Xue and IHS had said in the past that they be­lieved the data­base to be a com­mer­cially avail­able prod­uct. It was only clas­si­fied as a state se­cret af­ter Xue had bought it, ac­cord­ing to Dui Hua.

In Fe­bru­ary 2011, a Bei­jing court up­held his 2010 con­vic­tion and eight-year sen­tence.

In Novem­ber 2012, Xue

re- ceived a 10-month re­duc­tion in his sen­tence for good be­hav­iour, Dui Hua said.

His re­lease means that there are now no U.S. cit­i­zens serv­ing sen­tences in China on con­vic­tions of en­dan­ger­ing state se­cu­rity, Dui Hua said.

The U.S. re­peat­edly raised con­cerns over whether Xue’s rights were be­ing pro­tected and whether he had ac­cess to a fair trial.

Rights ac­tivists say China rou­tinely abuses its state se­crets laws, of­ten as a means of si­lenc­ing gov­ern­ment crit­ics.

Xue’s ar­rest and other cases have cast a spot­light on the dan­gers of do­ing busi­ness in China, es­pe­cially for those born in China who take on a for­eign na­tion­al­ity.

Aus­tralian na­tional Stern Hu, an ex­ec­u­tive with the min­ing gi­ant Rio Tinto, was sen­tenced to 10 years in pri­son in 2010 on bribery and trade se­crets charges, in a case se­verely crit­i­cized by Can­berra.

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