A Chinese court has given a 78-year-old, American man a life sentence for spying.
According to a statement posted, on the court’s official Weibo account on Monday, John Shing-Wan Leung, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to life, in prison in the eastern city of Suzhou.
According to the brief statement, Leung was seized by state security officials in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on April 15, 2021. The statement did not specify the nature of the charges against him.
According to the announcement, the court also seized assets valued at 500,000 yuan ($71,797).
Neither the Chinese government nor state-run media have previously, discussed Leung’s arrest or the legal proceedings that led to his conviction. In closed court, where the conviction rate is reportedly about 99%, cases involving state, security is typically dealt with sternly.
On Monday, the US Embassy in Beijing confirmed that it had seen news of Leung’s conviction and sentence.
The protection of American, citizens abroad is the State Department’s top priority. “We have no further comment due to privacy considerations,” a US Embassy official told CNN.
Security Secretary Chris Tang said at a press briefing on Monday that Chinese officials informed Hong Kong about Leung’s detention in 2021.
On Monday, the US Department, of State released a statement saying it was “aware of the sentencing of a US citizen, in the PRC on charges of espionage.”
Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the, US Department of State, declined to elaborate, citing “privacy concerns.” Still, he did say that whenever a US resident, is held abroad, the US strives to provide “all appropriate assistance,” including consular access.
When asked if Leung fits the criteria for a wrongful detention designation, Patel stated, “Broadly on wrongfully detained designations that work is a deliberative process that is ongoing.”
As tensions rise over trade, technology, geopolitics, and military power, the sentence Leung, comes at a time when ties between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest ebb in half a century.
A quarrel over a suspected, Chinese spy balloon broke efforts to restore ties earlier this year, but high-level contacts between the United States and, China have since resumed.
The US Department of State has identified at least three more Americans, Kai Li, Mark Sweden, and David Lin, who are being held illegally in Chinese prisons.
Leung is just one of many foreign, nationals who have fallen victim to China’s intensifying, anti-espionage crackdown under President Xi Jinping.https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/15/china/china-jails-us-citizen-espionage-intl-hnk/index.html
Their December 2018 espionage arrest, followed the December 2018 arrest of Huawei executive and, Chinese national Meng Wenzhou in Canada on an American, arrest warrant for her role in the company’s dealings with Iran.
The two men were released, on the same day that Meng was, allowed to return to China, despite Beijing’s repeated, denials that their cases, were political punishment.
On the first of this month, China implemented a sweeping new amendment to its already extensive counter-espionage law.
The new law defines espionage as the theft, dissemination, or unauthorized acquisition, of “documents, data, materials, or items related to national, security and interests,” as well as cyber-attacks on governmental organs, or key information infrastructure