A US-based Chinese academic and pro-democracy activist will plead not guilty when he goes on trial in China behind closed doors on charges of spying for Taiwan and illegal entry, his wife and lawyer said yesterday.
The trial of Yang Jianli (楊建利) at the Beijing Number Two Intermediate People's Court next Monday comes one month after the US House of Representatives condemned his incommunicado detention without due process and called for his release.
Yang, 40, a permanent US resident, was held by China's security forces for 15 months before he was indicted on July 14.
There was uncertainty over what sentence he might face. His wife, Christina Fu, said by telephone from Boston that he could be sentenced to death if convicted of espionage, but his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said Yang faced a maximum of life in prison.
Fu was convinced Yang, a Chinese national who had been blacklisted and barred from returning to China, was innocent.
"I know for sure Yang Jianli is not a spy. They have no evidence," said Fu, a US citizen and a researcher at Harvard Medical School.
"But I'm worried. What can I do if they are determined to press such charges against him?" she said, adding that she had been denied a Chinese visa to attend the trial.
Yang was arrested in April last year after entering China on a friend's passport and travelling for a week with a fake identity card, mainly to observe labor unrest in the northeastern rust belt.
A court spokesman said he had not heard of Yang's name.
Yang's wife said the indictment accused him of "accepting missions" from KMT officials during visits to Taiwan in the 1990s.