US businesswoman detained in China on spy allegations


Wed, Sep 23, 2015 - Page 6

A US businesswoman has been held for six months in China over alleged espionage, her supporters said, revealing a case that could complicate Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) state visit to the US that began yesterday.

The Chinese Ministry of State Security detained Sandy Phan-Gillis in March and she is being investigated on accusations of “spying and stealing state secrets,” according to the Web site, which provides information on her and her case.

Phan-Gillis was held while crossing the border to Macau at the end of a visit to China by a trade delegation from Houston, Texas, where she is a member of the mayor’s International Trade and Development Council, the site said.

The five-member group had visited Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and other cities, and only Phan-Gillis was detained, it added.

“Sandy is not a spy or a thief,” her husband Jeff Gillis said on the Web site.

It was not clear why the case had not been publicized until Monday, when the first announcements were posted to the site.

“Sandy has now been detained for over six months, and she has not been allowed to see or speak with friends, family, or even her lawyers in that time,” the Web site says.

She was formally arrested at the weekend, the Web site said, but added that no charges had been filed and earlier appeals for her release had received no response.

“Chinese authorities have conceded that they don’t have sufficient evidence to file formal charges against Sandy, yet they have not released her,” it added.

Phan-Gillis has family origins in southern China, but was born in Vietnam, the Web site says, leaving the country in the late 1970s as part of the exodus of “boat people” who fled communist rule.

Phan-Gillis has been visited once a month by officials from the US consulate in Guangzhou, the Web site said.

The Web site said she was in “very poor health” and suffering from several ailments.