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Lawmaker: China Will Free Librarian

January 28, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ China will soon release a U.S. college librarian detained last August and accused of smuggling secret documents out of the country, a congressman said today.

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said his office received a call from the Chinese Embassy earlier in the day with the news that Song Yongyi, who worked at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, would be set free.

Salmon, who appealed for Song’s release during a meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing earlier this month, said he had no other details on when Song would be released or if he would return to the United States.

Salmon, who joined five other House members on a recent trip to China, said Joseph Prueher, the U.S. ambassador to China, also informed his office in a phone call that he had unofficial reports of Song’s release.

Song, a Chinese national who had planned to become an American citizen in September, was on a summer trip to China to collect source material on the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution when he and his wife were detained. His wife was allowed to return to the United States in November.

Earlier this week a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Song had confessed to taking secret documents out of the country.

Officials from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., said Song was openly collecting previously published material to bring to the United States. Salmon said it was his understanding as well that Song had accumulated only published documents.

Salmon said his group, who are all for extending permanent trade status to China, tried to impress on the Chinese that Americans could be both pro-trade and involved in improving China’s human rights record.

He said Jiang had given a promise to them to look into the case. ``It shows that engagement works,″ Salmon said.

Update hourly