China on Monday sentenced a 78-year-old US citizen to life in prison on espionage charges, a case that could further deteriorate the already damaged ties between Beijing and Washington, D.C.
John Shing-Wan Leung, who also holds permanent residence in Hong Kong, was arrested on April 15, 2021 by the local office of China’s counterintelligence agency in the southeastern city of Suzhou, the Intermediate Court of China said in a statement. city.
Details of the allegations have not been made public.
His detention came just after the country closed its borders and imposed tough restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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The Suzhou court has offered no indication of a link to China-US relations, but the espionage allegations are highly selective and no evidence has been released – a standard practice among many countries aiming to protect their personal connections. networks and access to information, according to The Associated Press.
Investigations and trials in cases like this take place behind closed doors, and public information is generally limited beyond vague allegations of infiltration, secret-gathering, and threats to state security.
The US embassy in Beijing told The AP it was aware of the case but could not comment further due to privacy concerns.
“The State Department has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad,” the embassy said in an email.
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Chinese prosecutors have a greater capacity to hold people accused of national security cases, and lengthy pretrial detentions are not uncommon.
Requests for more information and court appeals are generally blocked by the country’s authoritarian political system and the ruling Communist Party’s complete control over legal matters, civil society and freedom of information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.