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US condemns 'forced repatriation' of Chinese human rights lawyer

WASHINGTON: The United States denounced on Wednesday (Oct 11) the deportation of a prominent human rights lawyer from Laos to his native China, calling for details on his whereabouts and assurances on the ailing activist’s access to medical care.

Lu Siwei was one of the lawyers appointed by the families of a Hong Kong activist group that was intercepted by authorities in 2020 while attempting to flee the city by boat to Taiwan.

But after being arrested by Laotian police while en route to Thailand in July, Lu was transported back to China last month, where he is likely to face legal repercussions, a rights group said.

He is now being held at a detention facility in Sichuan, southwestern China, his family told Amnesty International.

“The United States condemns the forced repatriation of People’s Republic of China (PRC) national and human rights lawyer Lu Siwei to the PRC from Laos, at the request of PRC authorities,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement, using China’s official name.

“We call on the PRC to confirm Lu’s current location; allow for external verification by independent observers of Lu’s well-being, including access for doctors to treat Lu’s chronic health condition; and enable his access to a lawyer of his choosing.”

Lu and one other human rights lawyer – Ren Quanniu, who also sought to represent members of the “Hong Kong 12” that attempted to escape to Taiwan – had their legal licenses revoked in 2021 by authorities.

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