HONG KONG (July 5, 2010) – The Beijing Number One Intermediate Court today sentenced the American geologist Dr. Xue Feng (薛峰) to eight years’ imprisonment in a verdict handed down more than one year after his trial for attempting to obtain and traffic in state secrets.
Dr. Xue, 44, is a naturalized US citizen and resident of Houston, Texas, was detained in November 2007 on criminal charges of attempting to acquire a database of information about China’s oil industry. Xue, who earned his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Chicago, was working for the American energy and engineering consulting firm IHS at the time the alleged criminal offenses took place, but both Xue and IHS have stated that they believed that the database was a commercially available product. After Xue purchased the database, it was subsequently classified as a state secret.
Formally arrested on April 11, 2008, Dr. Xue’s trial opened over a year later, in July 2009, and sentencing has been repeatedly delayed over the past year.
Resolving Dr. Xue’s case has been a high priority of the US government. President Obama raised the case with President Hu Jintao during his visit to China in November 2009. Xue, who is entitled to monthly visits by a consular officer, has been visited on several occasions by the US ambassador to China, Mr. Jon Huntsman, and Ambassador Huntsman and other embassy officials were present in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has also made great efforts on his constituent’s behalf, meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to the United States on a number of occasions.
Speaking from San Francisco, John Kamm, executive director of The Dui Hua Foundation, expressed deep disappointment at the guilty verdict and extended his sympathy to Dr. Xue’s family. “A terrible injustice has been done to Dr. Xue and his family, who for more than 2½ years have been waiting for a court to decide this man’s fate,” he said. “I can only hope that the Beijing High People’s Court will reconsider the heavy sentence that has been imposed and do so in a far more timely manner so that this man, who suffers from a serious heart condition, can return home to his family and doctors as soon as possible.”
The Dui Hua Foundation
July 5, 2010