Sat, Apr 08, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lee Ming-che ‘should not be tied to spy case’

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Representatives of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other associations hold signs reading “Release Lee Ming-che” at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

The government should reject any Chinese attempts to link detained Taiwanese Lee Ming-che’s (李明哲) case with that of an alleged Chinese spy, campaigners said yesterday.

The college lecturer and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) staffer disappeared last month shortly after entering Guangzhou, China, from Macau on what his wife has said was a mission to share Taiwan’s democratization experience with Chinese friends.

Chinese authorities have yet to announce any formal charges against Lee or say where he is being held.

“What is important is not what Lee did, but that the Chinese government should treat anyone like this,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Chiu E-ling (邱伊翎) said. “We still respect legal procedures in arresting suspected Chinese spies — we do not forbid their families from seeing them or prevent them from getting a lawyer.”

Lee’s detention, reportedly on “national security” grounds, came shortly after former Chinese student Zhou Hongxu (周泓旭) was arrested in Taiwan last month on espionage charges, leading to speculation that Lee had been seized in retribution.

“It would be unacceptable for him to be treated as a hostage to facilitate a political swap,” Chiu said, adding that if Lee’s detention continues, the government’s continuing low-key response might not be the “best way” to save him.

While the DPP and Mainland Affairs Council have issued statements about Lee’s case, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has yet to address it directly.

Straits Exchange Foundation officials are to accompany Lee’s wife, Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜), when she flies to Beijing on Monday to attempt to locate her husband.

The Taiwan Association for Human Rights and other groups yesterday published the results of an international campaign to protest Lee Ming-che’s detention, saying that an online petition calling for his release had more than 9,000 signatures and a local petition drive has collected more than 10,000.

In related news, the DPP and New Power Party (NPP) legislative caucuses yesterday proposed a resolution denouncing the Chinese government’s detention of Lee Ming-che.

The proposal said that Chinese authorities have detained him for almost two weeks, but refused to acknowledge his family members’ rights to visit him, guaranteed under 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 2009.

The two caucuses called on the legislature to issue a resolution expressing a “serious protest” against Beijing’s arbitrary arrest and detention, calling it a violation of human rights.

The NPP caucus also requested a joint resolution be made calling for the immediate release of Lee Ming-che, condemning his arrest and demanding the government help his family members visit him as well as in hiring lawyers and delivering his medications.

The proposals are to be discussed during a legislative floor meeting on Tuesday.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus convener Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) said the KMT caucus would agree with the proposals, but would leave the final decision to next week’s discussion.

Additional reporting by CNA

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