China jails US geologist on "state secret" charges

China jails US geologist on "state secret" charges

A Chinese court sentenced a Chinese-born US geologist to eight years in prison on Monday after convicting him of illegally obtaining an oil database that was deemed a state secret, DPA reported.

The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court found geologist Xue Feng guilty of attempting to "obtain and traffic state secrets" by buying the database on China's oil industry, which was only classified as a state secret after his arrest in November 2007, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, a US-based rights group.

Both Xue, 44, and his employer, US energy and engineering consultants IHS, said they believed the database was a commercially available product, the foundation said.

"A terrible injustice has been done to Dr Xue and his family, who for more than two and half years have been waiting for a court to decide this man's fate," John Kamm, Dui Hua's executive director, said in a statement.

"I can only hope that the Beijing Higher 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," Kamm said.

Xue was tried in July last year but the court repeatedly delayed its verdict in the case, which US President Barack Obama raised with Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing in November.

US Ambassador Jon Huntsman attended Monday's sentencing of the naturalized US citizen.

Kamm is a former businessman who for the past 20 years has used his connections in China to lobby officials to reduce sentences or release prisoners.

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