China Holds, Mistreats US Geologist

AP reports on Xue Feng, a U.S. geologist who has spent two years in Chinese jail with no-one publicly raising his case, against his own wishes:

Two years after disappearing into custody, the University of Chicago-trained Xue (pronounced shway) remains held at an unknown location in Beijing, charged with stealing state secrets over the purchase of a commercial database on the oil industry. His case has been batted inconclusively between prosecutors and the courts, which twice asked for more evidence, according to a summary of the case prepared by Xue’s wife and seen by The Associated Press.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama raised Xue’s case at his Beijing summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, said a White House official on the trip, in the latest and highest-level intervention.

More than an instance of abusive, intransigent Chinese justice, Xue’s case raises disturbing questions about the quiet lobbying foreign governments, companies and the families of detainees often use, believing it more effective with an authoritarian Chinese leadership.

“Under difficult and dangerous circumstances, Dr. Xue made it clear that he wanted the American people to learn of his ordeal. I have little doubt that had his wishes been respected, his case would have already been resolved,” said John Kamm, a human rights campaigner with a two-decade track record of getting prisoners released and whom the State Department turned to this month for help.


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