An international human rights group has called on Beijing to release Morrison Lee (李孟居), a Taiwanese who served a 22-month prison sentence for spying in China, but since his release last year has been prevented from leaving the country.
Beijing’s refusal to allow Lee to depart contravenes China’s domestic laws and international treaty obligations, Safeguard Defenders wrote in a news release on Wednesday.
China “manipulates deprivation of political rights to prevent Chinese rights defenders from freely going home after release from jail, instead subjecting them to weeks, months, even years of continued illegal detention ... in a phenomenon called ‘non-release release,’” the group said.
Photo copied by Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times
Lee — a Hsinchu native and an unpaid adviser to Pingtung County’s Fangliao Township (枋寮) — went missing in 2019 after he sent photographs of Chinese paramilitary police amassing on the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to Fangliao Mayor Archer Chen (陳亞麟).
Beijing’s state-run China Central Television later broadcasted footage of Lee confessing to espionage, and Chinese authorities said that he had been sentenced to prison and deprivation of his political rights for two years.
However, Lee’s prosecution for taking images of military drills in Shenzhen was politically motivated, as Chinese media have aired higher-quality photos and footage from the same event, Safeguard Defenders said.
The situation has drawn attention because other Taiwanese imprisoned in China for political offenses have also been deprived of political rights, the group said, adding that Beijing could “weaponize the deprivation of political rights” to indefinitely detain political prisoners.
Similar fears were felt prior to the release of democracy advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲), who was allowed to return to Taiwan following the completion of a five-year prison sentence for subverting the state, Safeguard Defenders said.
China in 2020 claimed to have arrested 100 Taiwanese spies, the group said.
Human rights groups determined that at least three people — Shih Cheng-ping (施正屏), Tsai Chin-shu (蔡金樹) and Cheng Yu-chin (鄭宇欽) — were jailed, it said.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed in 1998, but did not ratify, stipulates that every person should be free to leave any country, including their own, the group said.
Furthermore, restriction of movement is not associated with the deprivation of political rights under China’s Criminal Law, which defines political rights as the right to elect or be elected, assemble, speak and hold positions at state-owned enterprises, it said.
“China’s weaponization of exit bans is the topic of a forthcoming Safeguard Defenders report that will reveal the full scope of Beijing’s rights abuse targeting not only Taiwanese, but Chinese and foreigners involved in civil disputes and corruption cases,” it added.
In Beijing, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) told a routine news conference on Wednesday that Morrison Lee was serving out the part of his sentence concerning the deprivation of political freedoms.
The Chinese legal system has proved Morisson Lee’s guilt and that his legal rights were fully respected during the process, Ma said.
AGGRESSION: China’s latest intrusions set a new benchmark for its ‘gray zone’ tactics and possibly a new pattern that it would attempt to normalize, a researcher said China’s latest military exercises represent a new challenge to Taiwan’s legal authority to demarcate its borders in the Taiwan Strait, a defense expert said, adding that the fleets in the latest exercises were likely the most powerful the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ever assembled. The PLA conducted military exercises from Sunday last week to 6am on Friday, which encompassed large swathes of the western Pacific, including the Taiwan Strait and waters off the Philippines and Guam, National Policy Foundation associate research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said on Friday. The Ministry of National Defense said that it detected 70 warship and 162 aircraft
DOMESTIC MARKET: To protect the livelihoods of local egg farmers, the government adopted a new method for releasing imported eggs, the agriculture minister said More than 54 million imported eggs will be disposed, as their expiration date has passed, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday. Chen made the remarks at a news conference in Taipei, explaining the flow of imported eggs following recent controversies regarding the products. The ministry introduced a special egg import program to address a nationwide egg shortage earlier this year. However, controversies have risen in recent weeks. These included an accusation that the government helped some egg importing companies over others, eggs imported from Brazil that had an incorrect expiration date, and egg shipments from Brazil that were found
PACIFIC OCEAN: Defense experts have warned that the ‘Shandong,’ China’s second largest aircraft carrier, poses a serious threat to eastern Taiwan’s defenses The drills conducted by the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in the Western Pacific last week were more aimed at showcasing China’s military capabilities to the US rather than toward Taiwan, a Taiwanese defense expert said yesterday. Lin Yin-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said the drills which involved dozens of warplanes sought to test China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities should the US and its allies attempt to interfere in a cross-strait conflict. Lin said that the latest Chinese drills coincided with a joint maritime exercise conducted by the US, South Korea
Thousands of bottles of Sriracha have been returned or destroyed after the discovery of excessive sulfur dioxide, a bleaching agent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday. About 12,600 bottles totaling 9,991.8kg of the hot sauce imported from the US by Emporium Corp (河洛企業) were flagged at the border for containing illegal levels of sulfur dioxide, the FDA said in its regular border inspection announcement. Inspectors discovered 0.5g per kilogram of the common bleaching agent and preservative, higher than the 0.03g permitted, it said. As it is the first time within six months the product has been flagged, Sriracha products from