American Held 44 Days in Isolated Detention Inside China
U.S. Senator Cites China's Ulterior Motives for Holding American
NEW YORK (FDI) — After forty days of being held in isolation and allowed only two 30-minute visits with U.S. consular officials, Dr. Charles Li, an American citizen from Menlo Park, California, remains in a Chinese detention center with no formal charges brought against him (news).
“Charles should be released and allowed to return home,” says Adam Leining, a close friend of Dr. Li who is actively working to secure his release. “He has done nothing wrong.” (see “Rally and Candlelight Vigil” schedule for Wash. DC area)
Diplomatic Pressure “Absolutely Necessary”
According to an August 24, 1999 AFP report: “The Chinese Government has ordered Chinese lawyers not to plead for Falun Gong practitioners. This order comes from the notices of Bureau of Justice to attorney offices in major cities.”
In 2001, sources in China indicate that the Bureau changed its strategy slightly: Instead of out-right denial of legal representation, lawyers are required to “strictly stay in accordance with the tone of the Central Government” and are “appointed” to represent Falun Gong practitioners in court.
“What all this means is that the possibility of a fair trial for Charles in China, or any Falun Gong practitioner for that matter, does not exist,” explains Mr. Leining. “He’s done nothing wrong to begin with… so any legal proceedings that might occur will simply be for show.”
Mr. Leining concludes, “That’s why pressure from the United States government is absolutely necessary to secure Charles’ release.”
American Held Hostage for Embarrassing Beijing Mayor?
Chinese officials have alleged Dr. Li participated in overriding cable television signals in China with programs that expose the human rights abuses carried out by Jiang Zemin’s regime against Falun Gong. Shortly after he was detained, however, Dr. Li told a U.S. consular official that he was innocent and that he was being held simply because he practices Falun Gong.
Chinese officials have not brought any formal charges against Dr. Li.
During debate on the Senate floor last week, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) voiced a few of the more commonly held answers as to why Dr. Li was targeted by Chinese officials.
According to the Feb. 27th Senate Congressional Record, Senator Feingold suggested Dr. Li’s detention was related to his service of a legal “subpoena on the former Mayor of Beijing [Mr. Qi Liu] when he visited San Francisco last year.”
Dr. Li had done research for a lawsuit against Mr. Liu and had personally served the Beijing Mayor legal papers at the San Francisco airport last year. The lawsuit was filed on February 7, 2002, in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and charged Mr. Liu with “Torture; Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment; Arbitrary Detention; Crimes Against Humanity; and Interference with Freedom of Religion and Belief” (news) in response to human rights abuses committed by Beijing police under Mr. Liu’s direction.
Senator Feingold also suggested other motives for Dr. Li’s detention: “Could it be they [Chinese government] think U.S. criticism of their actions will be muted, since the administration needs their support, or at least their acquiescence, on Iraq and North Korea?”
According to Mr. Leining, both of these motives are “very true,” but he believes the core issue is Dr. Li’s practice of Falun Gong. “He’s being held, first and foremost, because of his practice. This is an extension of the persecution of Falun Gong and the target is now an American citizen.”
Mr. Leining concludes: “Given the Jiang regime’s clear history of illegally detaining and brutally torturing practitioners of Falun Gong, we are holding this rally to respectfully ask the U.S. State Department to demand the release of Dr. Li immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his safe return to the United States. We cannot tolerate the continuing persecution of Falun Gong by Jiang’s regime, and we absolutely cannot allow an American citizen to be unjustly imprisoned and persecuted overseas.”