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China Sentences American Falun Gong Member - 2003-03-21

China has sentenced an American member of the banned Falun Gong meditation sect to jail for interfering with television broadcasts. The American also has been ordered deported.

China's official Xinhua News Agency says that Chuck Lee, an American citizen, was convicted Friday of sabotaging television broadcast systems in the eastern Jiangsu Province.

It says a court in Jiangsu sentenced Mr. Lee to three years in prison, and ordered him to leave the country. It is not clear whether he must serve his sentence before being deported.

Xinhua says that, in October, Mr. Lee bought video disc recorders and computerized time switches to make five sets of television transmission devices. It says police seized him when he was about to use the transmitters to interfere with a local cable television network in Jiangsu, but he escaped to the United States.

Police took Mr. Lee into custody again in January when he returned to China.

Mr. Lee's case appears to be linked to efforts by the Falun Gong meditation group to take over state television programming to broadcast videos about their spiritual beliefs.

Falun Gong supporters say Mr. Lee is a member of their group, which has been banned in China since 1999 as an "evil cult."