September 12, 2005

China exiles sue President Hu for persecution

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two Chinese democracy campaigners
living in exile in the United States have filed a lawsuit
against Chinese President Hu Jintao for persecution and libel
ahead of his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush.

Wang Dan, a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square
protests, and Wang Juntao, branded a "black hand" mastermind of
the pro-democracy movement, said in a statement the Chinese
government had persecuted them by rejecting their applications
to renew their passports and denying them their right to return

The lawsuit, submitted to the U.S. District Court of
Columbia on September 8, named the Chinese government for
libeling the Wangs, who are not related.

"Beijing authorities initiated and spread unfounded rumors
about the two Wangs, claiming they were spies working for
Taiwan intelligence and that they had accepted money from
Taiwan in exchange for support for Taiwan independence," said
the statement seen on Monday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment. Hu
is expected to meet Bush on the fringes of the September 14-16
U.N. summit.

Wang Dan was jailed for four years for his role in the 1989
protests. He was detained again in 1995 and sentenced to 11
years in prison, but released on medical parole and sent into
exile in 1998 as a goodwill gesture two months before then U.S.
President Bill Clinton visited China.

Wang Juntao, who ran a private think-tank, was sentenced to
13 years in prison in 1991 and freed on medical parole in 1994
and forced into exile.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed when the Chinese
army crushed the Tiananmen protests on June 3-4, 1989.

The spy allegation was contained in a news report published
by Taiwan's mass-circulation China Times in May 2004, quoting
purported "secret documents" obtained by the Chinese Ministry
of State Security.

The Wangs have denied the accusations and offered to
undergo investigations, saying China's security apparatus was
trying to smear them by accusing them of using their Chinese
relatives to spy for Taiwan.

The Taiwan government has denied the newspaper report.

Beijing and Taipei have been spying on each other since
their split at the end of a civil war in 1949. But trade,
investment and tourism have blossomed since detente began in
the late 1980s.