A United Nations human rights committee has ruled China is violating international law by keeping a U.S. resident in custody for more than a year without charges.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission released an opinion in Geneva on Wednesday accusing China of failing to give a fair trial to Yang Jianli, a Chinese citizen with permanent U.S. residency.
The economist and democracy activist was detained at China's Kunming Airport in April 2002 for carrying false identity papers. He had been in China for research on labor unrest.
The Freedom Now human rights organization says Mr. Yang had been traveling on a friend's passport because he fled China after the Tiananmen Square incident more than ten years earlier.
Mr. Yang has not spoken to his family in more than a year. China has issued neither a formal notice of detention, nor formal charges. Under Chinese law, Mr. Yang's family cannot hire a lawyer unless there is a formal notice of his detention and charges against him.
China is not compelled to obey U.N. calls to release Mr. Yang, but human rights activists hope the ruling will increase political pressure to do so.