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Taiwanese cyclist recounts 'horrifying' arrest, detention in China

2019/11/20 21:22

Taipei, Nov. 20 (CNA) Taiwanese cyclist Tsao Yao-wen (曹耀文) said Tuesday he will never visit China again, after his "horrifying experience" of being arrested, interrogated and held in custody there for four days on suspicion of espionage, during a cycling tour from China to Mongolia earlier this year.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Tsao said he was arrested by Chinese soldiers on May 31 at the border between Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of northern China, on suspicion that he was spying for Taiwan.

Tsao said the soldiers, from what he vaguely recalled as the "3XX Brigade's 12th Battalion," later took him to a nearby military camp, where all of his identification and travel documents were confiscated, and he was photographed and questioned.

His interrogators asked him to list every school he had attended and give the dates, from kindergarten to university, and to name his teachers at all levels, Tsao said.

He was also asked to show his interrogators his location history in Google Maps on his smartphone, and to give them the usernames and passwords for all his bank accounts, email and social media accounts, he said in the post.

Later, Tsao said, he was transferred to a police station for further questioning and was told that he would be imprisoned for life and never allowed to return to Taiwan if he did not tell the truth.

Central government officials also took part in the interrogation, saying they suspected he was a senior special agent for Taiwan, Tsao said.

They pressed him for information such as the location of Taiwan's intelligence agency and where Chinese spies in Taiwan were being held, he said, adding that he knew nothing about such matters.

"The whole interrogation process was a horrifying experience because I was genuinely afraid I would be made to disappear," Tsai wrote.

After it became clear that he was just a traveler, not a spy, he was asked to sign a number of disclaimers, indicating that he had voluntarily cooperated with the interrogation, and he was released on June 3, he said.

After his release, Tsao said, he continued on his cycling trip to Mongolia. His tour, which started in Hulunbuir City in Inner Mongolia, took him across Mongolia and concluded in Xinjiang Province, he said.

It was not his first cycling trip in China, and he had no idea what led to his arrest in May, he said.

When he returned to Taiwan at the end of July, Tsao said, he had no way of proving that he had been arrested, held and interrogated in China, because he had not been able to take any photos during the four-day period.

"All Taiwanese should cherish the freedom and democracy they enjoy in their country," Tsao concluded.

(By Joseph Yeh)Enditem/pc