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China to arrange visit to jailed Taiwanese activist: spokesman

2018/11/14 16:00:14

Lee Ming-che (李明哲) / image taken from www.facebook.com/whereislee.org

Beijing, Nov. 14 (CNA) China will continue to make arrangements for the family of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che (李明哲) to visit him in jail, a Chinese government spokesman said Wednesday, despite Beijing's recent denials of visitation requests.

Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, made the pledge after Lee Ching-yu (李淨瑜), the wife of Lee Ming-che, said at a news conference on Nov. 10 that Chinese authorities have denied her request to visit her husband twice.

"As far as we know, Lee was transferred back to Chishan Prison in Hunan on Oct. 28," Ma said.

"Regarding family visitation issues, the prison has explained to his family in an appropriate way why their request to visit him was denied this time."

Lee's wife said on Nov. 10, however, that Beijing authorities have given no explanation why her husband was returned to the Hunan prison two weeks after being moved to a prison in Hebei last month.

Ma claimed that prison authorities had been handling visitation rights for his family in accordance with the law since Lee began serving his prison term, and said his family had visited him several times and that visits would continue to be arranged.

Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese democracy advocate, has been detained in China since March 2017 when he entered Guangdong province from Macau.

He was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of "subversion of state power" in November 2017 because of comments he made and information he circulated on social media about democracy, freedom of expression and human rights in China.

Lee had been serving his sentence at Chishan Prison in Hunan province since Dec. 28, 2017, but a Taiwanese business association in Hunan said on Oct. 19 it had been notified by the Chinese government that Lee had been transferred to Yancheng Prison in Hebei province.

According to visitation notices Lee's family received from Chishan prison in Hunan in January, they were allowed to visit him once a month. His wife visited him in March, May, June, July and September, but her visitation rights have been denied twice since October.

Noting that temperatures in Hebei can fall to 2 degrees Celsius compared to 12 degrees in Hunan, Lee Ching-yu said the abrupt transfer raised concerns over the health of her husband, in particular after her two requests to see her husband were denied.

(By Chou Hui-ying and Evelyn Kao)
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