The Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China, has filed suit in a U.S. court against Chinese President Jiang Zemin accusing him of torture and genocide. The legal action came on the first day of Mr. Jiang's visit to the United States.
The lawyer for the Falun Gong filed the suit in the U.S. state of Illinois Tuesday alleging that the Chinese leader has committed human rights abuses against the meditation sect in the three years since it was outlawed in China.
In the complaint, the group is asking for an injunction against future abuse and seeks financial compensation.
A Falun Gong statement says notice of the lawsuit was delivered to security guards at the hotel where the Chinese President was staying in the Illinois city of Chicago.
The group came to international attention in 1999, when it staged a dramatic and unusually large protest outside the Chinese leadership compound building. The shocked government banned the group as a menace to society and branded it evil, claiming the group brainwashes members and has killed hundreds of people by convincing them to forgo needed medical care or driving them to suicide.
The Falun Gong says that the Chinese government has killed hundreds of its followers in an effort to silence the group. Thousands of believers have been detained and sent to re-education camps.
Falun Gong combines traditional Chinese exercises with elements of Buddhism and Taoism. It supporters claim millions of followers in China and dozens of other countries.
The case was filed under a U.S. law that allows American courts to hear cases against foreigners accused of human rights violations abroad.