by WorldTribune Staff, September 12, 2017
A Chinese billionaire who received death threats after exposing corruption in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) leadership has a “strong claim” for asylum in the United States, the businessman’s lawyer said.
Guo Wengui, a Chinese real estate magnate now living in New York, announced the decision to seek political asylum in a video posted on the Internet last week.
“I’m confident he has a strong claim and he will ultimately be granted asylum because it’s a legal decision based on the facts and the law and not on politics,” said Guo’s lawyer, Thomas Ragland.
Since earlier this year, Guo has been posting regular videos discussing corruption in China and other issues.
He now has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter and in China his broadcasts and posts are heard and seen by tens of millions of Chinese.
The asylum request followed what Guo said were death threats against him and his family as well as a recent electronic hacking incident that temporarily disabled his yacht, nearly causing a collision on the Hudson River in New York, Bill Gertz reported for the Washington Free Beacon on Sept. 12.
According to an internal document produced by the National Security Council in Beijing, a government body composed of security and intelligence officials and CCP leaders, Guo poses a greater threat to China than the pro-democracy demonstrators who occupied Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
China does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. However, Hong Kong does have such a treaty and China is believed to have sought to invoke that treaty in seeking Guo’s forcible return, Gertz’s report said.
Political asylum, if granted, would preclude U.S. extradition to Hong Kong.
China has gone to great lengths to attempt to keep Guo from disclosing secrets about corruption among senior Chinese officials and details of Beijing’s intelligence activities.
In May, two Chinese security officials traveled to the United States to pressure Guo into keeping silent.
The officials, who were in Washington to discuss cyber security, pressed the Trump administration to forcibly repatriate Guo back to China. The officials were identified as Sun Lijun, vice minister of the Public Security Ministry, and an aide, Liu Yanpang.
During the visit, Liu traveled to New York and was detained by the FBI for violating the terms of his visa. His cellphone and laptop were confiscated before he was allowed to return to China.
Guo said he chose to apply for asylum through the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The process involves filling out an application for asylum and for withholding of removal, and began Sept. 6.
China, through the international police organization Interpol, sought Guo’s return on unspecified corruption charges by issuing a “red notice,” a kind of international arrest warrant.
However, Gertz’s report noted that the notice “is suspect because Interpol’s current president is Meng Hongwei, a Chinese Public Security Ministry official appointed in November.”
Guo dismissed the charges as false and politically motivated by Chinese leadership seeking to silence him through threats, intimidation, and pressure on business associates.
Guo has been targeted for assassination, according to a person close to him.
“[The Chinese government] used the most vicious and most immoral means to attack me,” Guo said in the video, according to a translation.
“They represent the country! They are acting in the name of the country. Wengui’s exposé [of the communist leaders] are the greatest activity in history. Under the circumstance, I am protecting myself one hundred percent.”
Guo said he is worried that someone might make an issue of his political asylum. “An American government official talked to me seriously. He said, ‘America is a nation of law. No one has the special privilege to decide other people’s fate. We want to wrap you up with the American flag,’ ” he said.
“I was very moved. Very moved! I burst into tears. My own country wants to hurt me, and is going to destroy me and my family with all means. Compare to it, the American government officials told me that they did not demand materials and information from me, and did not ask me to do anything as a condition. They just want to ensure my safety and pursue justice. … At that moment, I realized that how great America is.”
A U.S. official said the case against Guo is not a legal matter. “This is a political case,” the official said.