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China Deports US Citizen Convicted of Espionage

FILE - Sandy Phan-Gillis is seen in an undated and uncaptioned photo with her husband, Jeff Gillis. (
FILE - Sandy Phan-Gillis is seen in an undated and uncaptioned photo with her husband, Jeff Gillis. (

An American woman convicted of espionage in China and held without a trial for two years is back in the U.S. after being deported, according to her husband.

Jeff Gillis said in a statement that his wife, Sandy Phan-Gillis, left China Friday and arrived in Los Angeles the same day — removing a source of tension between the U.S. and China.

A court ordered her deportation Tuesday after sentencing her to 3½ years in prison for espionage.

The Chinese government has not released details of the charges, and Phan-Gillis' lawyer told Reuters he could not comment on the case because it involved "state secrets."

Phan-Gillis' husband said the Chinese government accused his wife of visiting the country twice on spy missions in 1996 and with collaborating with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to capture two U.S.-based Chinese spies and turn them into double agents.

Detained at Macau

Phan-Gillis was detained in March 2015 at the border of Macau, an independent region on the southern coast of China, after visiting mainland China. Phan-Gillis was with a trade delegation from Houston at the time of her detention.

She returned to the U.S. three weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with U.S. President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the two leaders "have been in constant touch with each other" since their meeting.

The human rights group that campaigned for Phan-Gillis' release, Dui Hua, said negotiations for her release intensified during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Beijing last month.

Phan-Gillis had been held in a secret location for six months before being transferred to a detention center in Guangxi, where she was initially placed in solitary confinement, according to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The working group denounced China's handling of the case last year, maintaining it had not followed "international norms relating to the right to a fair trial."

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