Pro-Democracy Detainee Yang Jianli Faces 1000th Day in Prison

January 19, 2005

According to a press release issued by Freedom Now, January 19th marks the 1000th day that democracy activist Yang Jianli has been imprisoned in China. Yang’s wife, Christina Fu, recently returned from her first and only visit with her husband since he was detained in April 2002. According to Ms. Fu, Yang remains in high spirits but suffered a minor stroke in July 2004 and has lost some function in his left arm and hand. She expressed concern about her husband’s deteriorating health and hope that the Chinese government would release him on medical parole as soon as possible.

Yang Jianli, 41, participated in pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing in June 1989, then fled China and emigrated to the United States. While earning a U.S. degree, he founded a pro-democracy NGO in the Boston area in the 1990s. Concerned about the arrests of labor activists in Liaoyang in 2002, Yang returned to China using another person's passport. Chinese police detained him in Kunming in April 2002 and held him incommunicado for nearly 15 months. Although the authorities held Yang initially for illegal entry, they later charged him with espionage, alleging financial connections with a Taiwan intelligence service. The Beijing Intermediate People's Court tried Yang in August 2003, pronounced him guilty in May 2004, and sentenced him to five years. Yang refused to appeal his conviction on the grounds that his trial was a sham. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that Yang's detention is arbitrary, and both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed unanimous resolutions calling for his release.