Sun, Apr 05, 2015 - Page 5 News List

US geologist released by China: group

‘ORDEAL’:Xue Feng’s release means that no US citizens are serving sentences in China on convictions of endangering state security, the Dui Hua Foundation said

AFP, BEIJING

A US geologist convicted on Chinese state secrets charges and imprisoned in Beijing has been released and returned to the US, a human rights group said.

Xue Feng (薛峰), who was serving an eight-year sentence in Beijing No. 2 Prison, was immediately deported upon his release, the US-based Dui Hua Foundation said in a release dated Friday.

The rights group, which advocates clemency and better treatment for prisoners in China and had repeatedly raised Xue’s case with Chinese officials, said that he arrived in Houston, Texas, 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 Francisco-based group’s executive director John Kamm said in the release.

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

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

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

Media contacts at IHS did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

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

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

In November 2012, Xue received a 10-month reduction in his sentence for good behavior, Dui Hua said.

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

The US 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 potential dangers of doing business in China.

Australian national Stern Hu (胡士泰), 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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