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Released Taiwanese man 'will never ever go back to China again'

2012/08/13 18:01:28

Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) A Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner who was detained by Chinese authorities in June said Monday he was forced to make a confession to certain crimes in exchange for gaining his release and returning to Taiwan.

"I will never ever go back to China, even though Chinese officials asked me to visit again, assuring my personal safety," Chung Ting-pang vowed.

The Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that Chung Ting-pang was released because he "admitted the crime and repented with a good attitude," but Chung said Monday that none of those actions were made of his own free will.

"They offered me a standard confession statement and implied that if I didn't cooperate, I might not be able to go home," the 53-year-old manager of a Hsinchu-based technology firm said at a press conference.

According to the Chinese news agency, authorities suspected that Chung worked to sabotage television services on the mainland, claims he and his defenders say were trumped up.

Chung was released on Aug. 10, and he returned to Taiwan the next day, accompanied home by family members and officials from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which is responsible for cross-strait exchanges in the absence of official ties.

Although he was not physically tortured by Chinese officials during his 54-day ordeal in detention, Chung said he suffered great psychological torment.

Taiwanese officials attributed the positive outcome of Chung's case to close cooperation between Taiwan and China, made easier due to the signing of the Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement signed in 2009.

But Chung and his family seemed less than convinced by the government's claim. They thanked a few dozen people in their opening remarks at Monday's press conference but did not mention any official with either the SEF or the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy planner.

Only after reporters questioned Chung about the government's role in securing his release did he say, "I do feel grateful for the government. I do hope, however, that there can be some mechanism that really protects Taiwanese people's rights."

SEF spokesman Ma Shaw-chang said the foundation did all it could to bring the case to a conclusion, including fighting to get visitation rights for Chung's family members and hiring a lawyer to defend him.

Chung was arrested at an airport in China on June 18 after visiting family members in Jiangxi Province. Chinese officials barred him from leaving the mainland, asking him to assist with "an investigation into the Falun Gong sect," a spiritual movement that is banned in China.

He was later accused of sabotaging the signal of a Chinese TV station in 2003 with the help of Chinese nationals.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)