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U.S.-based scholar a spy, says China

Gao Zhan is being detained in an undisclosed location
Gao Zhan is being detained in an undisclosed location  

BEIJING, China -- China has accused a U.S.-based Chinese scholar of spying, dampening hopes U.S. President George W. Bush's appeal last week would effect her release.

"Evidence has shown that Gao Zhan accepted missions for overseas intelligence agencies and took funds for spying activities," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said.

He also said his information came from "relevant authorities," but did not mention which country might have paid Gao, an unpaid fellow at the American university in Washington.

Bush had pressed for the release of Gao, who remains detained in an undisclosed location, during a meeting in Washington last week with Chinese vice premier Qian Qichen.

U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing met twice with Chinese officials last week in efforts to secure Gao's release.

Sun had said that Gao "openly confessed to crimes" that "undermine state security."

But neither side raised the issue of Gao's alleged admission to spying during last week's talks.

Gao's husband said that his wife may have said things against her will, having no lawyer.

He added that, upon his release, he was told to shut up or put his wife at risk.

Diplomatic breach

The detention of Gao is likely to bolster a planned U.S. human rights resolution against China before the United Nations in Geneva.

Gao, her husband and five-year-old son were arrested after a holiday, just before they could board a flight for the U.S. from Beijing's airport on February 11.

They were detained separately. Gao's husband Xue Donghua and their son Andrew were released on March 8.

The five-year-old Andrew's detention has raised a diplomatic issue  

China apparently breached a bilateral consular agreement in failing to inform the U.S. embassy in Beijing about the detention of Gao's husband and son, who are American citizens.

Gao is a U.S. resident but remains a Chinese national.

Xue said he was interrogated about his wife's social science research and trips to Taiwan.

He also accused the Beijing government of "kidnapping" his son.

Sun tried to fend off criticism of the boy's treatment, saying the child was kept in a "kindergarten."

Reuters contributed to this report.

The White House

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