04/11/2006, 00.00
United States – China
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US lawmakers urge Bush to raise Chinese dissident's case

Yang Jianli, a US permanent resident, was detained by the Chinese government in April 2002. He for more than a year in solitary confinement and suffered a minor stroke.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A bipartisan group of 119 US lawmakers urged President George W. Bush on Monday to raise with President Hu Jintao the case of an imprisoned prominent Chinese pro-democracy activist.

Yang Jianli, a US permanent resident, was detained by the Chinese government in April 2002 when entering the country with a friend's passport after Beijing refused to renew his own due to his involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

"We believe that your personal, direct advocacy with President Hu at this crucial time is our best and greatest hope in helping to bring Yang Jianli, who is a hero to so many, home," the legislators from the US House of Representatives said in the letter to Mr Bush.

The House and Senate have unanimously passed several resolutions calling for Yang's unconditional release. Mr Bush had raised Mr Yang's case with Mr Hu during his visit to Beijing in November and as well when he met the Chinese leader at a UN summit in New York in September last year, according to rights groups informed of diplomatic attempts to seek his release.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also raised the matter several times with her Chinese counterpart, while the US embassy brought his plight to Beijing's attention more than 60 times, they said.

Mr Yang was initially held for more than a year in solitary confinement without access to counsel, and was reportedly abused by prison guards. He suffered a minor stroke, and "his health continues to be a serious concern to many of us," the lawmakers said in the letter.

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