China convicts US woman held for ‘spying’

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Beijing, April 26
A Chinese court has sentenced an American woman to three and a half years in prison and deportation on espionage charges, a US-based rights group said Wednesday, although details about her fate remain unclear. Sandy Phan-Gillis was detained in March 2015 at the Macau border after visiting mainland China with a trade delegation from the Texas oil capital Houston. She was accused of espionage and stealing state secrets for allegedly passing intelligence to a third party, according to previous reports from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) that cited unnamed government sources. Nanning Intermediate People`s Court in the southern province of Guangxi issued the sentence Tuesday, but the American`s next steps will not become clear until a written judgement is released at an unknown future date, Dui Hua Foundation director John Kamm said. Phan-Gillis was currently being held in a detention centre, not a prison, and did not plan to appeal, he said. Kamm said “adjusted for time spent in residential surveillance in a designated location, she has already served more than half her sentence, and is accordingly eligible for parole as well as medical parole, commutation and immediate deportation”. “I am hopeful she will be reunited with her family soon,” he added. A US Embassy spokeswoman in Beijing said Wednesday her trial was closed to the public and a request to have a consular officer attend had been refused. A US consular representative had been allowed to attend the public announcement of the verdict.

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