Wife: China may soon put detained Taiwan activist on trial

AP News
Posted: Sep 06, 2017 7:56 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Chinese authorities may begin the trial of a Taiwanese pro-democracy activist who has been detained since March and is accused of endangering national security, his wife said Wednesday.

Lee Ching-yu told reporters she received a call Wednesday from a man who described himself as her husband Lee Ming-che's lawyer, saying the case was set to go on trial at a court in central Hunan province.

Calls to the court in the city of Yueyang and the lawyer, Zhang Zhongwei, rang unanswered Wednesday.

It was the first news that Lee Ching-yu has directly received about her husband's case since he disappeared 172 days ago into Chinese detention, she said, adding that she planned to apply for a travel permit to go to the mainland on Thursday.

"No matter how much heartache and sadness I've been feeling, there's finally a ray of light in being able to see Lee Ming-che again since he was disappeared," she said in a statement. "I must still embrace a glimmer of hope for human nature."

She said she had initially planned to travel to Geneva on Sept. 10 to speak about her husband's situation to a United Nations working group on enforced disappearances.

Lee Ming-che, 42, cleared immigration in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of Macau on March 19 and never showed up for a planned meeting later that day with a friend in the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai. He had previously conducted online lectures on Taiwan's democratization and managed a fund for families of political prisoners in China.

In April, Lee's wife was prevented from flying to Beijing to seek a meeting with her husband because China canceled her travel permit. China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, doesn't recognize Taiwanese passports and requires islanders to use a Beijing-issued document called a Taiwan Compatriots Pass to visit the mainland.

Relations between Taiwan and China have been near an all-time low since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party has advocated Taiwan's formal independence. China cut off contacts with Taiwan's government in June, five months after Tsai was elected.