US citizen, 78, jailed for life on espionage charges in China
An elderly American citizen with permanent residency status in Hong Kong was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on espionage charges in China.
John Shing-Wan Leung, 78, was found guilty of spying by the Suzhou Intermediate People’s Court on Monday.
Very few details about Leung’s investigation and trial were released by the court, who tried the US citizen behind closed doors.
According to the court, Leung was arrested in Suzhou City, Jiansu Province, on April 15, 2021. His arrest was not reported until his conviction was announced just over two years later.
Leung was sentenced to life in prison. He was also ‘deprived of political rights for life’ and fined a total of 500,000 yuan (£57,488.03).
The US Embassy in Beijing said it was aware of the conviction, but could not comment further due to privacy concerns.
‘The Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas,’ a spokesperson for the embassy said.
Metro.co.uk has reached out to the US State Department for further comment.
The conviction was announced as relations between the US and China reach a low point. Earlier this year, the US accused China of flying a spy balloon over much of North America.
Leung is not the first American to be imprisoned overseas on espionage charges this year. In March, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia after being accused of spying.
Gershkovich, a longtime journalist covering Russia and Ukraine, was reporting a story in Yekaterinburg about the country’s war industry when he was detained.
However, the Russian Federal Security Services (FSB) accused him of ‘acting on instructions from the American side to collect information about the activities of one of the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex that constitutes a state secret.’
Another American, Paul Whelan, remains imprisoned in Russia after being convicted on espionage charges in 2018.
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