Sun, Apr 30, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Beijing deports US woman convicted of espionage


Jeff Gillis in Houston on Oct. 4 last year looks through documents he collected in support of his wife, Sandy Phan-Gillis, who was deported from China on Friday.

Photo: AP

A US woman convicted of espionage was deported by China on Friday, a human rights group that campaigned for her release said yesterday, removing a source of tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Sandy Phan-Gillis was detained in March 2015 at the Macau border after visiting China with a trade delegation from the Texas oil capital, Houston.

She was accused of espionage, stealing state secrets and allegedly passing on intelligence to a third party. She was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and deportation on Wednesday.

On Friday, “Phan-Gillis was deported. She arrived in Los Angeles the same day. She was met upon arrival by her husband and members of her family,” US-based human rights organization the Dui Hua Foundation said in a statement.

Her return to the US comes three weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) met US President Donald Trump in Florida, amid a warming of ties between the two countries.

Since their first face-to-face meeting in Florida earlier this month, the two presidents “have been in constant touch with each other,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said on Friday.

Dui Hua said negotiations to secure Phan-Gillis’ release were stepped up during US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Beijing last month.

Tillerson’s US Department of State “was assisted by the White House in bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion,” it said.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last year denounced China’s handling of the case, saying it had not observed “international norms relating to the right to a fair trial and to liberty and security.”

Violations by Chinese authorities were of “such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty of Ms Phan-Gillis an arbitrary character,” it said in a report released in July last year.

Phan-Gillis was held for six months at a secret location and later at a detention center in Guangxi, where she was initially put in solitary confinement, the working group said.

Her husband, Jeff Gillis, had campaigned for her freedom, setting up a Web site, “,” which has now been taken down.

According to an archived version of the site, Phan-Gillis has family origins in southern China, but was born in Vietnam.

She left the country in the late 1970s as part of the exodus of “boat people” who fled communist rule.

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