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Chinese ex-official’s wife blames repatriation pressure for disrupting her life in US.

Chinese ex-official’s wife blames repatriation pressure for disrupting her life in US.

A couple who left China and kept their U.S. address private were confronted by strangers at their New Jersey home with an ominous note telling the husband to return to China and serve a 10-year prison sentence. The wife, Liu Fang, expressed her concerns in a U.S. court that if the lock on the door had not held, what might have happened. The couple, their adult daughter, and various relatives were reportedly subjected to intimidating overtures as part of an alleged campaign to hound ex-official Xu Jin into returning to China and answering allegations of embezzlement and bribe-taking. The three accused men, including an American police sergeant turned private investigator, are standing trial for acting as illegal agents for China.

China describes “Operation Fox Hunt” as a plan to pursue and repatriate nationals Beijing considers fugitives, including those at political or cultural odds with the ruling Communist Party. However, Beijing has denied issuing threats to induce people to return “voluntarily.” Prosecutors and Liu’s testimony described the pressure campaign to force her husband’s return, including flying in the husband’s father, against his will, in 2017 to beseech his son to return to China.

The defendants argue they believed they were helping collect a debt or undertaking other tasks for private entities and did not know they were working on behalf of the Chinese government. Defense attorneys say the men were variously told they were helping a Chinese construction company that had been allegedly defrauded of millions of dollars, aiding a Chinese acquaintance owed $400,000, doing something related to important people in Macao, or other explanations.

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The defense raised questions about the couple’s source of U.S. income, causing a judge to block further inquiry on the issue. Nevertheless, Liu argued that US immigration matters did not influence her testimony and stated that all she was doing was telling the truth.

© 2020 CANDOUR

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