Dissident from China expelled


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 9:52 p.m.
BEIJING - A former Chinese bureaucrat who served a prison term after calling for free elections has been expelled to the United States, activists announced Saturday.
Fang Jue, who was released from prison last July but detained again before a major Communist Party meeting in November, was put aboard a United Airlines flight to Chicago on Friday afternoon, New York-based Human Rights in China said. It said he was allowed to contact his family only after he was aboard the plane.
A former economic-planning official who left government in the mid-1990s to go into business, Fang caused a stir when he issued a 1998 statement calling for free elections, freedom of the press and independent labor unions.
Fang, 47, was arrested later in 1998 and sentenced the next year to four years in prison on charges of conducting illegal business deals.
He denied the charges, and activists described them as punishment for his political comments.
His expulsion came one month after leading pro-democracy activist Xu Wenli was released from a Chinese prison and sent into exile in the United States.
"We're very disappointed that once again the Chinese government has decided that it can only deal with a dissident by ejecting him from his homeland to a life in exile," Liu Qing, president of Human Rights in China, said in a prepared statement.
Human Rights in China had distributed Fang's 1998 statement and has followed his case closely.
Fang was accompanied on the flight to Chicago by a diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said John Kamm, a San Francisco-based activist who researches Chinese prison issues and also announced the release.
Kamm said he had received a message from the plane that Fang was in "high spirits and looking forward to a new life in the U.S."
Fang was picked up Nov. 4 in what activists said was a crackdown on dissent in advance of a Communist Party congress that month that installed a new generation of party leaders.
He was detained on suspicion of endangering state security and disturbing social order, according to Kamm. He said authorities released Fang after completing an investigation.
China has rid itself of a number of dissidents convicted of political offenses by paroling them on medical grounds on condition that they leave the country. But Fang's case was unusual because he wasn't charged with a crime after his most recent detention.
"Fang had not even had formal charges brought against him since his arrest," said Liu's statement. "So it appears now that the Chinese government feels it can round up dissenters and eject them from the country at will."
Fang's family had complained that he suffered from harsh treatment and poor conditions while in prison. They said he was left with a frostbitten foot after being held in an unheated cell in winter as punishment for accusing a guard of corruption.

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