The US Department of State on Monday called for the immediate release of three labor rights advocates who investigated a Chinese company that produced Ivanka Trump shoes in China.
Reports said the men were arrested or went missing last week.
The men were working with China Labor Watch, a New York-based nonprofit, investigating Huajian Group factories in Jiangxi Province’s Ganzhou and Dongguan in Guangdong Province.
The company has denied allegations of excessive overtime and low wages.
It says it stopped producing Ivanka Trump shoes months ago.
“We urge China to release them immediately and otherwise afford them the judicial and fair trial protections to which they are entitled,” US State Department spokeswoman Alicia Edwards said.
Edwards would not confirm if the US raised the issue directly with China, saying she could not comment on diplomatic conversations.
Wen Yu (聞宇), a lawyer for one of the men, said all three were being held at the Ganzhou City Detention Center and that he had been blocked from seeing his client, Hua Haifeng (華海峰), on Monday and yesterday morning.
Yu said that he was told the case was being handled by a national security team, rather than a criminal police squad.
“This is strange, because it is a small case,” he said.
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