WASHINGTON: The United States "celebrated" the release of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che after five years of detainment in a People's Republic of China prison for human rights advocacy.
"The United States celebrates the release and homecoming of Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-che after five years of unjust detainment in a People's Republic of China prison for human rights advocacy," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a Tweet on Monday (local time).
Lee was detained in March 2017 while travelling in China and convicted of subverting state power six months later by a court in Hunan Province, for which he was to serve a five-year sentence of imprisonment.
Human rights groups had expressed concern over the Taiwanese national.
During a press conference held on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Lee's arrest last month, Amnesty International Taiwan Secretary-General Chiu I-ling said that Lee's family had been unable to get in touch with Lee since the global outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, Focus Taiwan reported.
A suspension of political rights for two years following the five-year prison term was included in the sentence, meaning that Lee Ming-che could be prevented from leaving China before April 2024, Taipei Bar Association human rights committee chairman Chiang Jung-hsiang said.
"If Beijing stops Lee Ming-che from exercising his civil rights in Taiwan by keeping him detained in China, it would sever his connection with society and impose economic hardships that constitute cruel and unusual punishment," he had said.
Covenants Watch convener Huang Song-lih had also informed that four other Taiwanese -- Morrison Lee, Shih Cheng-ping, Tsai Chin-shu and Cheng Yu-chin -- have also been imprisoned in China on unfounded charges of espionage.