Pro-Democracy Detainee Yang Jianli Said to Face Health Difficulties

December 17, 2004

According to a report by Freedom Now, democracy activist Yang Jianli has suffered a minor stroke and is having other health problems. Yang, 41, a U.S. permanent resident who is serving a five-year sentence in Beijing, revealed the health conditions during a one-hour visit with family members last week. He reportedly plans to petition for medical parole.

Yang Jianli 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.