U.S. calls on China to release Taiwanese activist

Taipei-The United States has called on Beijing to release a Taiwanese human rights activist who was sentenced to five years Tuesday on charges of "subverting state power" for advocating democracy in online discussion groups.

"The United States is disappointed that Lee Ming-che (???) has been sentenced to five years in prison on vague charges of 'subversion of state power,'" American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Sonia Urbom told the CNA in an email.

"We urge the Chinese authorities to release Mr. Lee and allow him to reunite with his family," she said when asked to comment on the U.S.'s stance on the case.

AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Lee, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) worker at Wenshan Community College, was convicted on the subversion charges on Tuesday and sentenced to five years in prison and deprived of political rights for two years.

In response, Taiwan's Presidential Office expressed regret at the verdict on Tuesday, saying "spreading pro-democracy ideas is not a crime."

Lee shared his ideas about democracy and freedom with friends in China through online messaging platforms because he cared about the development of democracy and civil society in China, Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (???) said.

It is "unacceptable" that Lee was given a prison sentence for doing that, Huang said, calling on Beijing to release Lee.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel