‘Enough is Enough’: Families Urge Biden Admin to Bring Home Americans Detained in China

By Humeyra Pouk and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Katherine Swidan, whose son Mark has been imprisoned in China for over 10 years, has not seen even a photograph of him over the last decade. His voice was last heard in 2018

The families of the other Americans held in China are also hoping that Antony Blinken (U.S. Secretary for State) can pressure the Chinese authorities to release their loved ones.

“My message for Blinken is: say their names,” Katherine Swidan, a telephone interview conducted from Luling Texas, said this in an interview. “They’re American citizens. They’ve been wrongfully detained. Enough is enough.”

Mark Swidan, a Texas businessman, was convicted on drug-related charges by a Chinese court despite the absence of evidence. He was given a reprieve and death sentence in 2019. A United Nations working group concluded that he was arbitrarily held in violation of international laws.

Recent high-profile prisoner swaps by the Biden administration, including Brittney Griner, a basketball star, being released from Russia in return for a convicted Russian arms dealer have prompted calls for Washington’s assistance for U.S. citizens in China who have been held for more than a decade without any consular contact.

The detainee issue is often lost in the larger complexity of the U.S.-China relations, which have fallen to their lowest point in decades.

Griner was not aware of the U.S. citizens in China.

Families of Americans detained say freedom should not be tied to difficult policy issues. Instead, they believe that humanitarian concerns should be dealt with in a separate track.

“This cannot be treated as a long-term policy exercise,” Harrison Li, the son Chinese-American Kai Li and detained in China ever since 2016, said Harrison Li.

“My dad, he is not a complex policy issue. It’s a very clear cut-and-dry issue of an innocent American citizen being used as a pawn by the Chinese government to extract something,” Li stated.

In 2018, a Chinese court sentenced his father to ten years in prison for espionage. Kai Li denies all charges.

Li claimed that talks between Washington, Beijing, and Beijing have taken place in recent months regarding the Americans held in China. However, they didn’t go anywhere. “And that’s what makes it so.

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