During a press conference held on the eve of the fifth anniversary of Lee’s arrest on Friday, 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.
Lee’s wife Lee Ching-yu has applied to visit her husband at Chishan Prison in Hunan Province 16 times over the past two years but to no avail, Chiu quoted by the media outlet said.
During the same period, Lee was barred from speaking to Lee Ching-yu on the phone or writing to his family, Chiu said, adding that Lee’s current status in prison, including his health, remains unclear.
According to Chiu, Lee has experienced cruel treatment during his imprisonment which violates the international human rights law, including being fed with rotten food and deprived of warm clothes during the winter.
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.
A coalition of human rights groups said that Lee’s release was not guaranteed as his wife, Lee Ching-yu, never received a copy of the verdict nor the date of her husband’s release from Chinese authorities, they said at a news conference outside of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Conditions of the facility where Lee Ming-che has been incarcerated are “inhumane,” as he was deprived of warm clothing, served spoiled food and denied phone calls and visits, Amnesty International Taiwan secretary-general Chiu Ee-ling said, reported Taipei Time.
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 said.
Covenants Watch convener Huang Song-lih said 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.