China sentences 78-year-old US citizen to life in prison on spying charges

A vendor sets up a booth Saturday displaying China and American flags during a Spring Carnival in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

BEIJING (AP) — China sentenced a 78-year-old United States citizen to life in prison Monday on spying charges, in a case that could exacerbate the deterioration in ties between Beijing and Washington over recent years.

Details of the charges against John Shing-Wan Leung, who also holds permanent residency in Hong Kong, have not been publicly released.

Leung was detained April 15, 2021, by the local bureau of China’s counterintelligence agency in the southeastern city of Suzhou, according to a statement posted by the city’s intermediate court on its social media site. His detention came after China had closed its borders and imposed tight restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Such investigations and trials are held behind closed doors and little information is generally released other than vague accusations of infiltration, gathering secrets and threatening state security.

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