China executes Taiwan spy suspect
AFP - 2 hours 29 minutes ago
BEIJING (AFP) - - China on Friday executed a scientist accused of passing information to Taiwan, triggering condemnation from his family and several countries including the United States.
Wo Weihan, a 59-year-old medical scientist, was put to death on Friday morning, his daughter Ran Chen -- an Austrian citizen married to an American -- said.
"We are deeply shocked, saddened, disappointed and outraged," Chen and her sister Di said in a statement emailed to AFP.
"My father was put to death, so was our hope in the Chinese justice system."
The United States confirmed the execution had taken place and issued a strongly-worded statement denouncing the killing.
"We are deeply disturbed and dismayed by reports that the Chinese government has carried out the death penalty against Wo Weihan," US embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson told AFP.
Wo, a Chinese citizen who previously lived in Austria, was detained in early 2005.
He was accused of leaking state secrets and Chen said one charge listed in court documents said he might have talked about senior leaders' health -- an act punishable by death in China.
The case drew worldwide attention, with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealing directly to Beijing to spare him.
Austria's foreign minister on Friday called the execution a "premeditated affront" to the European Union by China.
"The fact that this execution comes precisely on the day of dialogue between the EU and China on human rights shows the lack of consideration and the harshness with which this case has been handled," said Ursula Plassnik.
"This behaviour must in this regard be considered as a premeditated affront by the entire EU."
Chen saw her father for the first time in four years -- and for the last time -- on Thursday morning, but Di was unable to meet him.
"Because he did not know about a looming execution, he was hopeful and did not leave any final words or a will with our family," Chen said in the statement.
"We, the family, were not allowed to say goodbye. We were also denied the most fundamental and universal right of information about what was happening with our father."
China on Thursday had warned it would not give Wo special treatment.
"Wo Weihan is a Chinese citizen who broke Chinese law," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.
"We can't give privileges to Wo Weihan because he has foreign relatives."
A spokesman for the ministry, who refused to be named, on Friday said he had nothing to add to Qin's comments.
The United States said Wo's arrest and trial had fallen short of international standards for due process.
"Reportedly Mr Wo did not have access to legal counsel until after the prosecuting officials completed their investigation," Stevenson said.
"His confession was coerced and the charges against him were questionable."
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