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Australian jailed in China as spy: Canberra

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Feb 1, 2011
An Australian educational recruiter is serving a life jail sentence in China after being convicted more than three years ago of spying for Taiwan, a report said Friday.

The foreign ministry in Canberra confirmed that an Australian was detained in February 2006 and later convicted under China's state security laws, but declined to give further details of the case or charges.

"Chinese officials told the Australian embassy in Beijing that the man was tried and convicted under China's state security laws and in accordance with its legal procedures," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Age newspaper said James Sun, a former Chinese air force employee, was helping to recruit foreign students to Australia when he was seized by security police and detained as he headed to dinner with friends five years ago.

Sun was accused of "seducing" a former air force colleague into copying more than 1,000 top-secret and classified documents, and of passing them to the Taiwanese, the newspaper said. He was found guilty in late 2007, it said.

Sun's wife, who lives in Australia, denied that her partner was a Taiwanese spy and claimed that a confession he allegedly gave had been concocted.

"He's just a normal person. He's never been to Taiwan and doesn't know anyone from Taiwan," she told The Age, reportedly discussing her husband's plight for the first time. The newspaper did not give her full name.

Embassy officials were not allowed to attend Sun's trial, but were present when the verdict was handed down, the foreign ministry said. Since then, he has received regular consular visits in his Beijing jail cell.

China's foreign ministry declined immediate comment to AFP when asked about the case on Tuesday.

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