Two Chinese men face extradition and trial in US

08:04, October 27, 2010      

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Two Chinese nationals who were reportedly set up by United States agents and arrested in Hungary are now awaiting extradition for trial in the US.

Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Hungary said they are doing their best diplomatic efforts to protect the rights of the detained men.

On Monday, Embassy spokesman Yang Daliang told China Daily it remains unclear as to whether the men would be sent to the US. But "the case is still ongoing, and we are doing our best", he said.

On the morning of Sept 1, Xian Hongwei and Li Li were arrested by Hungarian police upon arrival at an airport near the capital city of Budapest, according to a report from the Legal Daily over the weekend.

The Beijing-based newspaper said US law enforcement authorities had, as early as June 9, issued international arrest warrants for the two Chinese citizens, and, on Aug 25, put forward a confidential request to the Hungarian government to arrest and extradite Xian and Li to the US, on the grounds that they broke defense-related US laws.

Under the assumption that they were going to meet a business partner in Budapest, Xian and Li were reportedly taken away by police before they could even clear Hungarian customs.

The report also said that on the second day of their detention - following a one-hour trial - the men were placed under temporary arrest pending extradition to the US.

During the proceedings, the men were forced to accept a court-appointed lawyer. But without access to independent counsel - or any legal aid, for that matter - the two reportedly signed documents in Hungarian - a language neither one understands.

Xian and Li's requests to contact the Chinese embassy before the trial were also denied, the report added.

"They are now in a prison, but we have visited them are providing consular assistance to them," Yang told China Daily, adding that the families have also been in touch with the two men.

The report said Xian, who works in the computer industry, contacted the British Aerospace Company (BAE) in 2008 for a specific type of microchip the company produced. He was later directed to a man named Malcolm Lee for the purchase.

He was told that Lee was in charge of US sales, and also responsible for business in China.

Over the following 17 months, Lee was in frequent contact with Xian and Li, and declined their initial request to ship BAE products in Beijing through a logistics company, the report said.

Upon Lee's request to meet face-to-face in Hungary, Xian and Li accepted and, after arriving at the airport, were promptly spirited away by local police.

The report added that the two later learned that Lee was an undercover US agent.

The report said that in court the two men were informed they were being charged with a violation of international weapons sales, as the high-tech product they sought is listed on the International Traffic in Arms Regulations - a US government statute that seeks to curb arms proliferation worldwide.

The report said that neither men were aware of the charges against them until they were informed by the court.

The Legal Daily said there have been similar undercover stings in which Chinese businesspeople have been lured abroad and arrested for purchasing products without appropriate licenses.

One notably similar case took place when Yuan Hongwei, a Chinese businesswoman, was lured to the Britain under the pretense of a "business negotiation".

Having previously had intellectual property rights disputes with a US company, she was initially detained and arrested by UK officials, but was later released.

Zhou Wa contributed to this story.

By Ai Yang, China Daily


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