China Says Wu Guilty Of Sneaking Into Country, Stealing State Secrets
BEIJING (AP) _ A U.S. human rights activist is guilty of sneaking into China and stealing state secrets, but his case needs further investigation before charges are issued, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.
Whether Harry Wu’s trial is public or secret will depend on what kind of state secrets investigators determine he stole, spokesman Shen Guofang said.
Wu, who was born in China and served 19 years in prison camps before emigrating to the United States, was arrested June 19 trying to enter northwest China’s Xinjiang region from Kazakhstan.
Despite a consular agreement providing for speedy access, U.S. Embassy officials first met with Wu on Monday, in the central city of Wuhan. On Saturday, he was formally arrested and accused of spying, a crime punishable by death.
``Wu Hongda repeatedly sneaked into China using aliases and illegally obtained China’s state secrets and passed them to overseas organizations,″ Shen said, using Wu’s Chinese name. ``His activities have already constituted a crime.″
``Further investigation is needed because ... more evidence needs to be gathered,″ Shen said at a news conference.
In China’s often intentionally obscure judicial system, suspects are first detained, then formally arrested when evidence is deemed sufficient to support a criminal charge.
Prosecutors draw up an indictment after police conduct more investigations, a process that can take months. Court officials review the indictment and often order more investigative work to better support charges, a collusive practice illegal in some Western legal systems.
Only after the indictment is issued is a defendant usually allowed to meet with a lawyer. In some cases, however, the defendant and attorney have not been allowed to see the indictment until the trial.
Shen said Wu can ask China to provide him with an attorney while in custody if he wants.
U.S. Consul General Arturo Macias met with Wu for 30 minutes Monday but was not allowed to discuss details of his case. Their conversation took place by phone through a glass partition and was monitored by Chinese officials.
The U.S. Embassy has asked for a follow-up meeting. The Sino-U.S. consular agreement allows for such a visit within one month.
Shen hoped Wu’s arrest would not further harm relations with the United States. Ties have frayed over trade, missile sales, human rights and a private visit to the United States by the president of Taiwan, China’s rival.
Members of Congress, some of whom hold Wu’s activism in high regard, want to punish China, perhaps by revoking its most-favored-nation trading status.
``The case of Wu Hongda is a criminal case and has little linkage to MFN trading status or Sino-U.S. relations,″ Shen said. ``The MFN status is a reciprocal, mutually beneficial arrangement between two countries in the field of economic relations and has nothing to do with other issues.″
Wu has returned to China several times to gather evidence on abuses committed in its vast network of forced labor farms and factories. His work helped the U.S. Customs Service identify Chinese goods made with forced labor.
Last year, Wu investigated the use of organs taken from executed prisoners for transplant operations.
Charges were brought against Wu in Wuhan, 1,900 miles southeast of where he was detained, in part because some of his illegal acts took place there, Shen said. The national archives on organ transplants is believed in that city.
Shen said the specific charges against Wu would be up to judicial agencies.
Chinese criminal law contains both espionage and something called ``stealing state secrets and passing them to foreign organizations.″ Both are considered ``counterrevolutionary″ crimes punishable by death.
Wu will be tried as a U.S. citizen, Shen said, adding that Chinese and foreigners alike are subject to China’s laws inside the country.