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China to Begin Spying Trial of U.S. Professor This Week

Courts: A translation error led U.S. to believe the case is underway.

July 07, 2001|From the Washington Post

BEIJING — Chinese officials told U.S. diplomats Friday that an American citizen accused of espionage will go on trial July 14, opening what could be a series of legal proceedings against U.S. citizens and green-card holders detained by Chinese security in recent months.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher retracted an earlier statement that the trials of two of the detainees were underway, which could pave the way for their expulsion from China, saying it was based on an incorrect translation of a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman's remarks.

The schedule appeared to dash hopes that China might release the detainees, many of them academics, before the International Olympic Committee's July 13 vote on Beijing's bid to host the Summer Games in 2008.

Li Shaomin, a U.S. citizen and business professor in Hong Kong, was detained after entering China on Feb. 25. Li was later accused of spying for Taiwan, but his family denied the charge and said he might have been arrested because he is an advocate of democratic reforms.

Chinese officials told U.S. diplomats that an American consular official and an interpreter will be allowed to observe Li's trial, Boucher said.

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