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Chinese Dissident's Life Sentence Upheld

  • Heda Bayron

A Chinese court has upheld the life sentence of a U.S.-based pro-democracy dissident. Peng Ming was arrested last year in Burma, and was convicted in China of terrorism and kidnapping.

Peng Ming was arrested in Burma in May 2004. His supporters say he was there to set up a safe haven for fleeing Chinese dissidents.

The Burmese authorities then turned him over to China, where he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in October for organizing terrorist groups, kidnapping and possessing fake currencies.

On Friday, the Higher People's Court in Hubei province upheld the sentence.

Peng Ming is a veteran pro-democracy activist. Prior to his arrival in the United States in 2001, he spent 18 months in a Chinese labor camp. He founded the China Federation Foundation in California in 2003, with the aim of replacing the communist Chinese government with a democratic one. Two members of Peng Ming's group were jailed in China in 2003 for subversion and kidnapping.

U.S.-based Chinese democracy dissident, Zhang Weiguo, says Peng Ming's case shows China is taking more extreme methods against dissidents, by kidnapping them and taking them to China.

Democracy activists say, in 2003, Chinese authorities allegedly kidnapped three dissidents in Vietnam. One of them, U.S.-based activist Wang Bingzhang, was sentenced to life in prison in February 2003, for terrorist offenses and spying.

Political analysts and human rights groups say China has been using the global war against terrorism to justify its crackdown on dissidents and separatist groups.