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China jails 78-year-old US man for life

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China has sentenced a 78-year-old American man to life in prison over spying charges, according to Al-Jazeera on Tuesday.

The report said the espionage case could further strain already tense ties with the United States.

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Details of the case against John Shing-Wan Leung, who also has permanent residency in Hong Kong, have not been publicly published.

He “was found guilty of espionage, sentenced to life imprisonment, deprived of political rights for life”, said a statement on Monday from the Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou.

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Suzhou authorities “took compulsory measures according to the law” against Leung in April 2021, it said, without specifying when he had been taken into custody.

Al-Jazeera further reported that it was unclear where Leung was living at the time of his arrest.

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Such investigations and trials are held behind closed doors and little information was released other than vague accusations of infiltration, gathering secrets and threatening state security.

Nevertheless, such heavy terms are relatively rare for foreign citizens in China.

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A spokesperson for the US embassy in Beijing said they were aware of reports that a US citizen had been recently convicted and sentenced in Suzhou.

“The Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas,” the spokesperson said.

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“Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”

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