July 5, 2010 in Nation/World

China sentences American to jail

Geologist ordered to serve eight years
Charles Hutzler Associated Press

BEIJING – An American geologist detained and tortured by China’s state security agents over an oil industry database was jailed for 8 years today in a troubling example of China’s rough justice system and the way the U.S. government handles cases against its citizens.

Beijing’s No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Xue Feng for seeking and providing intelligence related to the purchase of the commercial database on the oil industry.

Xue’s lawyer Tong Wei described the sentence as “very heavy.”

Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to China, was inside the court when the verdict was delivered.

For Xue, the verdict comes more than six months since the last court hearing and two and a half years after he was detained – a protracted prosecution and pretrial detention that Chinese officials never explained.

Born in China and trained at the University of Chicago, Xue ran afoul of the authorities for arranging the sale of a detailed commercial database on China’s oil industry to IHS Energy, the energy consulting firm he worked for that is now known as IHS Inc. and based in Colorado.

The case has been seen as a troubling complex of the pitfalls of Chinese justice, especially for successful native Chinese who go abroad for education and work, acquire foreign citizenship and then return to China for work.

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