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China Deports American Jailed on Spy Charges


Xue Feng, 1993

BEIJING — An American geologist who was imprisoned for more than seven years on a vague charge of “illegally procuring state secrets” has been deported by China and arrived home in Houston on Friday, according to a human rights organization in the United States.

Senior American officials, including President Obama and three American ambassadors to China, had for years urged top Chinese Communist Party and government officials to release the American, Xue Feng. But China showed little leniency, and Mr. Xue served all but 10 months of his eight-year prison sentence.

Through most of the past decade, Mr. Xue’s case has been a frustrating one for the American government and has been cited by human rights groups as an example of the vagaries of the Chinese legal system.

The fact that the Chinese government refused to release Mr. Xue ahead of or during Mr. Obama’s visit to Beijing in November 2009 despite intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic talks revealed at the time how little leverage the United States has had in recent years in human rights advocacy in China. Mr. Obama personally lobbied for Mr. Xue’s release during the visit, to no avail.

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