- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

From combined dispatches
BEIJING A Chinese court convicted U.S.-based dissident Wang Bingzhang on spying and terrorism charges today and sentenced him to life in prison, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Mr. Wang, 55, was arrested after police said they found him tied up in a temple July 3. However, pro-democracy activists suggested he was abducted in Vietnam by Chinese agents after he secretly met with Chinese labor leaders in Hanoi.
Mr. Wang was convicted by a court in the southern city of Shenzhen of "espionage, [and] organizing and leading a terrorist group," Xinhua said in a two-sentence report. It did not give any details of the case or evidence against Mr. Wang.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
Mr. Wang was visiting Hanoi with two other dissidents when they were reported missing in June.
Chinese authorities say they found all three in southern China's Guangxi region, which borders Vietnam, while they were investigating a kidnapping case. Mr. Wang apparently was taken to Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, where he was formally charged Dec. 5.
The Chinese government has said the other two dissidents Yue Wu and Zhang Qi were cleared of involvement in Mr. Wang's activities.
Xinhua said earlier that Mr. Wang's trial was closed because it involved state secrets.
Mr. Wang, a Chinese citizen, has permanent residency status in the United States.
He was a medical student in China when he started speaking out against the communist government and was jailed twice. He went into exile in Canada in 1979 and, in the 1980s, lived in New York, where he published the pro-democracy magazine China Spring and organized the Chinese Alliance for Democracy.
Mr. Wang slipped into China in 1998 without permission, saying he planned to organize a Chinese Democracy and Justice Party to press for free elections and civil liberties. He was caught and deported.
Last month, China said its state security department verified that Mr. Wang sold state secrets to a spy organization in Taiwan beginning in the early 1980s.
Police also said that Mr. Wang published articles on the Internet advocating terrorism.
Mr. Wang's daughter, Wang Qingyan, told the Agence France-Presse wire service from her home in Los Angeles she was devastated by the news.
"I hope I can learn more soon. I applied to the Chinese government to meet my father, but they refused," she said.
"I haven't been able to reach my father. My father is not in a very good physical condition, and I really hope he can come home to the United States so I can take care of him."
Free China Movement international director Timothy Cooper called the sentence "shameful."
"We deeply regret the severe sentence handed down," he told AFP from the group's Washington base.
"It is unjust and incomprehensible that a state that seeks to be part of the international community treats a democracy dissident in such a shameful manner."

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