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Family of Detained Chinese Spy Li Yuzhou Leave Thailand

Li Kejun waits outside a prison in Bangkok, Thailand, where her husband Li Yuzhou is being held. The Chinese couple and their two children have had their refugee status revoked by the U.N. and fear they will be deported back to China.

 

BANGKOK – The wife and two children of detained Chinese government informant-turned-dissident Li Yuzhou have left Thailand for a third country. Li Kejun, 32, Li Junyi, 9, and Li Zhouyu, 8, left Bangkok on Wednesday after wrangling over their future was settled with the help of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC).

The three decided to leave behind Mr Yuzhou, 36, for personal reasons, they told the Bangkok Post shortly before their departure.

Mr Yuzhou, a former Beijing University student, was recruited by China’s Ministry of State Security as an informant to spy on dissident activities among his fellow students.

In October 2008, Mr Yuzhou was arrested on suspicion of participating in a bomb hoax at the Chinese embassy, and has been incarcerated ever since.

He later quit and fled abroad after information he gave on the activities of the “New Youth Society” student group led to its core leaders being sentenced to eight to 10 years imprisonment in May 2001.

Mr Yuzhou and his then-girlfriend Li Kejun arrived in Bangkok in 2005 and were granted political refugee status by the UNHCR.

In October 2008, Mr Yuzhou was arrested on suspicion of participating in a bomb hoax at the Chinese embassy, and has been incarcerated ever since.

The bomb hoax was said to have been an attempt to gain assistance and political asylum in the United States. Mr Yuzhou claimed he was duped by others.

He said former Chinese student activists were involved, but no one has ever confirmed his account. A key female dissident had been deported earlier to the US, while another man disappeared.

Mr Yuzhou’s family have had a tough time since his arrest. On Sept 20, 2009, the UNHCR cancelled their refugee status granted on Sept 2, 2005, shortly after they escaped from China to Thailand, on the ground that they were not eligible for international protection.

The UNHCR reinstated the Li family as persons of concern (POC) in May this year. However, Mr Yuzhou remains at Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Centre. His wife and their young children, who were born in Bangkok and speak fluent Thai, have now decided to live elsewhere.

Surapong Kongchantuk, of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, said Mr Yuzhou’s safety and security should be considered seriously by immigration authorities.

The UN refugee agency should quickly find a third country for Mr Yuzhou’s deportation, since he was a POC and should be protected from any persecution, Mr Surapong added.

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