US Permanent Resident Yang Jianli Eligible for Parole

October 26, 2004

U.S. permanent resident Yang Jianli, who was convicted of illegal entry and espionage by a Chinese court earlier this year and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence, became eligible for parole today. Yang's advocates and relatives are in the process of trying to visit him and file petitions for parole. Earlier this month, 21 Senators, 85 Representatives, and 63 Harvard faculty members signed letters calling on the Chinese government to grant parole to Yang. The letters note that Yang's release would help to improve bilateral ties.

Yang Jianli is a longtime Chinese dissident who participated in pro-democracy demonstrations in June 1989, after which he fled China and founded a pro-democracy NGO. The Chinese government refused to renew his passport in the early 1990s, undermining his internationally recognized right to return to China. Yang returned to China in 2002 using another person's passport. He was detained in April 2002 and held incommunicado for nearly 15 months. Although initially held on illegal entry charges, Yang was later charged with espionage for alleged connections with Taiwan. He was tried by the Beijing Intermediate People's Court in August 2003, pronounced guilty in May 2004, and sentenced to five years in prison. Yang refused to appeal his conviction on the grounds that his trial was a sham. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that Yang's detention is arbitrary.