Jailed Taiwanese Lee Ming-che to be released soon: Chinese official

04/13/2022 03:43 PM
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Lee Ming-che is seen in a trail in China streamed by the court in September 2017. CNA file photo
Lee Ming-che is seen in a trail in China streamed by the court in September 2017. CNA file photo

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Taiwanese NGO worker Lee Ming-che (李明哲) will be released from prison soon after completing his five-year sentence, China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said Wednesday without providing specific details.

Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2017 for "subversion of state power," will soon be released from prison after serving his sentence, TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said at a press briefing, adding the authorities would arrange for his return to Taiwan after his release.

While not specifying when Lee will be released from prison, Ma noted that Lee's health condition was "stable."

NGO groups in Taiwan, including Amnesty International Taiwan, have estimated that Lee would complete his five-year jail term on Thursday, reasoning that his eight months spent in detention before being officially sentenced should count toward his sentence.

At Wednesday's briefing, the Chinese official also said Chishan Prison in Hunan Province, where Lee is being jailed, had suspended all in-person visits by the family members of prisoners since the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.

Ma stressed that the authorities had ensured Lee's rights to communicate with people outside the prison according to law.

Update: Taiwanese activist returns home after being released from prison in China (April 15)

However, Amnesty International Taiwan, which has helped Lee's wife Lee Ching-yu (李凈瑜) to campaign for Lee's release, said on Wednesday Lee's family had not received any notice from the Chinese authorities about his pending release.

The group also said in March that Lee had been barred from speaking to his wife Lee Ching-yu on the phone or writing to his family for the past two years.

During the same period, Lee Ching-yu also applied to visit her husband at the prison 16 times but to no avail, while the family members of other prisoners were allowed to visit them, the group added.

Lee Ming-che, a staff member of Wenshan Community College in Taipei, was arrested by the police in March 2017 while visiting China's Guangdong Province from Macau.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and an additional two years of disenfranchisement in November 2017 for "subversion of state power," after being accused of using online discussion groups to disseminate information and articles attacking the Chinese government.

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top government agency handling cross-strait affairs, said in a statement Wednesday that it was working with relevant parties on the matter and will ensure that Lee returns to Taiwan quickly and safely after his release.

(By Chang Shu-ling and Teng Pei-ju)

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