Peter Humphrey, a British private investigator who was detained two years ago while working for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, was released from prison on Tuesday with seven months to go of a two-and-a-half-year sentence, according to friends and family members.
The Shanghai authorities released Humphrey, 59, early Tuesday morning and admitted him to a hospital because of poor health, his family said. Once tests are conducted, he is expected to be issued an emergency passport and deported to Britain by the Chinese authorities.
Humphrey’s arrest in the summer of 2013 coincided with a Chinese government investigation into accusations of fraud and corruption at the drug company. Although Humphrey was not charged in connection with that case, his friends and relatives believed he was detained because of work he had been conducting for Glaxo.
In a separate case, Glaxo was eventually fined nearly US$500 million, one of the largest fines in corporate history in China, for engaging in fraud and bribery. One of the company’s top executives in the country, Mark Reilly, was also charged with wrongdoing in the case. The authorities then suspended Reilly’s three-year prison sentence and ordered him deported.
Humphrey and his wife and business partner, Yu Yingzeng (虞英曾), a Chinese-born US citizen, were charged with violating the rights of private citizens by obtaining private information about them while operating ChinaWhys. The company, an investigation firm, regularly performed due diligence for multinational corporations in China.
Yu, 61, was sentenced last year to two years in prison and she is expected to be released within a month. There was no indication on Tuesday that her sentence had been reduced. The sentences for her and her husband took into account time served since their arrests.
A representative at the British consulate could not be reached late on Tuesday. However, British officials issued a two-sentence statement, without naming Humphrey: “We have been notified by the Chinese authorities that a British national detained in China has been released. We are providing consular assistance to the family.”
In a statement released by the Humphrey family, the couple’s son, Harvey, said: “I’m stunned and delighted. I hope to see both of my parents as soon as possible.”
The Humphrey case shocked the international community in China because ChinaWhys had worked for some of the world’s biggest companies and had typically been hired to help root out corruption. However, the case highlighted the risks of doing such work in China and it suggested that investigative firms were sometimes paying to obtain access to confidential government records.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of