Free US Citizen Kai Li from Chinese prison #FreeKaiLi

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Kai Li is a US citizen, husband, and father wrongly imprisoned in Shanghai, China since September 2016. He is falsely accused of espionage and stealing state secrets on behalf of the FBI.

For over two months, Kai was placed under residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL). This means he was detained at an unknown location with no access to legal counsel of any kind, while monitored 24/7 and harshly interrogated every day and night by agents of China's secret police, the Ministry of State Security. UN experts have condemned RSDL for “placing detainees at a high risk of torture and ill-treatment”.

Kai was not formally placed on trial until August 2017, almost a month after his initial arrest. The trial was held behind closed doors (ostensibly because it involved "state secrets"), and the verdict - a 10-year prison sentence - was not announced until almost another year later, in July 2018.

For over 20 years, Kai ran a legitimate export business as a distributor for a subsidiary of Boeing. He is not a spy; according to Kai's attorney (who was only able to be consulted after Kai had undergone 4 months of continuous unmonitored interrogations by state security agents), the "state secrets" Kai is accused of stealing are freely searchable on the Internet. Unfortunately, the Chinese government can declare anything a state secret, even retroactively, giving it wide latitude to arbitrarily detain foreigners. Along with Kai, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are a prime example of victims of this "hostage diplomacy".

Kai is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence at Qingpu prison in Shanghai. The foreign prisoner's unit in which he is held made international headlines in December 2019 when it was revealed that inmates there were coerced into manufacturing Christmas cards. At the prison, Kai has been threatened with punishment for expressing a desire for US officials to intervene upon his behalf. All means of communication with the outside world are tightly monitored - over the last 4 years numerous letters have been rejected or "lost" after being screened for up to several months. Kai spends his days in a tiny, non-climate-controlled cell shared with 12 prisoners in stifling 100-degree heat and humidity. Nobody, include the US consulate, has been able to visit him since January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The prison diet lacks adequate produce or protein, ostensibly due to "food shortages" in China, yet officials inexplicably refuse to allow Kai to receive or buy any nutritional supplements. Recently, Kai collapsed in line for food and experienced heartbeat irregularities; in response, the prison prescribed a Chinese herbal blood thinner and denied a more thorough cardiac examination.

The Trump administration has routinely prided itself on its ability to bring home wrongfully detained Americans abroad, and its willingness to stand up to the Chinese government. It is difficult to think of a better way for the administration to demonstrate these commitments than to negotiate the release of Kai Li.