US academic on spying charges freed by China

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The Independent Online

An American writer detained on charges of spying for Taiwan has been released, three weeks before President George Bush is due to visit China .

The American embassy said Chinese-born Wu Jianmin, 46, was freed from jail and "has left the country".

The official Xinhua News Agency said Wu was expelled yesterday by the State Security Department of Guangdong Province in southern China after he "conducted espionage activities seriously jeopardising the national security of China. Because he confessed to his crimes and disclosed his accomplices' criminal activities, Wu received light punishment, and the state security department decided to expel him."

An American embassy official said Wu "appeared in generally good health" and had been visited by consular officers in Guangzhou since his detention on April 8. "We are pleased that Wu has been released and is returning to the United States to be reunited with his family," the official said.

Wu is one of several Chinese-born academics, writers and entrepreneurs with American ties detained this year. He is a former teacher at the ruling Communist Party's Central Party School in Beijing and also a reporter.

In the past, releases have been timed to coincide with visits from American leaders. President Bush is due to visit China next month for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum meeting in Shanghai.

Jerome Cohen, who represents Liu Yaping and Fong Fuming, two US residents still being held, said: "The visits of leaders ... often are preceded by an attempt to clear the agenda of relatively minor but still important irritations." (AP)