The Chinese government has continued to snub requests for information regarding the whereabouts and condition of Taiwanese Lee Ming-che (李明哲) by not responding to an official letter from Taipei, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said in Taipei yesterday.
The Ministry of Justice on Tuesday last week and on Monday sent requisition letters via official channels to the Chinese Public Security Ministry asking Beijing to provide specific information on Lee’s situation, Chen told a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
This was done in accordance with the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議) signed in April 2009, which arranged communication channels and bilateral dialogue between law enforcement agencies on either side of the Taiwan Strait to deal with criminal prosecutions and legal matters.
“The Chinese Public Security Ministry on April 1 replied to a request made by the National Police Agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau,” Chen said. “However, the information was based on statements by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office [TAO] on March 28, which did not provide any concrete information regarding Lee’s situation.”
The justice ministry’s second official letter on Monday asked for an explanation regarding Lee’s detention and an update on his status, but “it has not responded to our request so far,” Chen said.
Chinese authorities on Tuesday last week told a news conference in Beijing that Lee was in good health, but gave no information about where he was being held or the terms of his detention.
“As Lee is suspected of pursuing activities harmful to [Chinese] national security, the investigation into him is being handled in line with legal procedures,” TAO officials said.
Chen said that there was uncertainty over the reception Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), would get after she announced her intention to fly to Beijing on Monday next week in a bid to visit her husband and gain his release.
She said she plans to visit the TAO, the Chinese Supreme People’s Procuratorate and other agencies in a bid to learn where Lee Ming-che is being held and what charges he faces, and also to deliver medication for his high blood pressure.
“There are questions being asked about whether Lee’s wife would be allowed to enter Beijing and what treatment she might receive there,” Chen said. “We do not know how that will turn out.”
“The Straits Exchange Foundation [SEF] can better provide assistance under the circumstances,” Chen said when asked whether the justice ministry would provide her with legal assistance. “Foundation officials have promised to help, therefore we will let it handle the situation.”
The foundation said that it is up to China to decide whether its officials and Lee Ching-yu can visit Lee Ming-che.
The foundation has informed the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits that its officials and Lee Ching-yu want to visit him, but has not received a response, SEF Deputy Secretary-General Lee Li-jane (李麗珍) said.
Separately yesterday, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) again expressed the government’s “serious discontent” over the failure of the Chinese authorities to make public the details about Lee Ming-che’s detention and repeated a call for transparency.
Further delay would only lead to more distrust and dissatisfaction among Taiwanese, Chiu said.
Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng and CNA
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