Thu, Jul 11, 2019 - Page 6 News List

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Conspiracy given 40 months

A diplomat on Tuesday was sentenced to 40 months in prison for lying to investigators about money she received from Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for US documents. Candace Marie Claiborne, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the US in one of several high-profile cases involving Beijing spies’ recruitment of US officials, the Department of Justice said. She would also be fined US$40,000. Claiborne was a Department of State office management specialist based in Beijing and Shanghai who in 2007 became involved with two men the justice department said she knew were agents of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. They gave her “tens of thousands” of US dollars in exchange for documents and information, it said.


Detention power retained

The new civilian government is to retain the power to arbitrarily detain critics, despite the imminent easing of junta-era security controls, prompting warnings from rights groups of enduring “martial law.” Nearly 2,000 people have been tried in military courts since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in 2014. The junta last year eased a ban on political activities in the run-up to national elections and Prayuth on Tuesday phased out dozens of additional junta-enacted orders, transferring military cases to civilian courts. However, the government retained more than 100 orders, including the right for police to detain suspects for seven days on national security grounds. Political analyst Titipol Phakdeewanich said the continuing restrictions showed that full democracy remains a distant prospect.


Rare ‘terrorism’ charge

A Chinese advocate against corruption who had urged officials to disclose their wealth was arrested for allegedly “promoting terrorism.” Zhang Baocheng (張寶成), 60, was a member of the now-defunct New Citizens Movement, which campaigned for democracy and government transparency. It is unusual for members of civil society or human rights advocates to be accused of terrorism, and his wife said that she fears it suggests Zhang might receive a heavy prison sentence. What led to his latest arrest is unclear. Zhang on Thursday last week was arrested by Beijing police, suspected of “picking quarrels, promoting terrorism, extremism and inciting terrorism,” according to an arrest warrant shared by his wife.


Suspects extradited to China

The nation has denied bowing to pressure from Beijing by allowing Chinese police to extract six criminal suspects without them facing a local court. Critics have accused the government of bypassing due process to please China. Plainclothes police officers from both countries flanked five men and one woman — all reportedly Chinese nationals — as they were escorted onto a privately chartered plane on Friday last week. Four of the six reportedly had Vanuatuan passports obtained under a scheme allowing wealthy foreigners to get citizenship in return for substantial fees or investments. Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat told Radio New Zealand there was nothing unusual about the operation, and said that foreign criminals should not obtain citizenship in an attempt to hide from the law. “To those other foreigners who have obtained Vanuatu passports through the citizenship program, you must understand that the government can revoke your passports at any time if you are caught in illegal acts,” he told the Daily Post.

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