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Chinese American Dissident Barred from Hong Kong - 2002-04-15

U.S. citizen and convicted Chinese dissident Harry Wu was barred from entering Hong Kong late Sunday. Mr. Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps, was detained at the airport. Many local human rights watchdogs and local politicians fear the denial of entry is politically motivated.

Chinese American Harry Wu was held overnight Sunday following his arrival at Hong Kong's international airport.

He was put on a flight to Tokyo Monday afternoon. Hong Kong officials have declined to comment on the case beyond saying they acted for security reasons. The U.S. consulate here has asked the immigration authorities for an explanation. U.S. citizens usually enjoy visa-free travel to the territory.

Paul Harris, a spokesman with Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, says the refusal of entry was a blow to Hong Kong's freedoms. "Human Rights Monitor is very shocked and concerned about this refusal. Harry Wu is a very distinguished expert on the labor camp system (in China). He is someone with whom we would like the opportunity to exchange ideas. We regard this as a serious infringement of our freedom of association," Mr. Harris said.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is now governed under a one-country two-system policy implemented by China in 1997. While maintaining its autonomy and western-style freedoms, the territory's government has barred politically sensitive persons in the past.

During a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 2001, for example, members of the Falun Gong religious group, which is outlawed in China as an evil cult but legal in Hong Kong, were denied entry.

Mr. Wu had told his wife he had no intentions of entering Mainland China through Hong Kong.

A New Zealand journalist traveling with Wu was also refused entry and put on an outbound flight Sunday night.

Mr. Wu, who was born in China, spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps and became a vocal critic of conditions in Chinese prisons.

He was arrested in 1995 when he attempted to enter China, tried for selling state secrets and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Instead of sending him to jail, however, Beijing threw him out of the country.