BEIJING (AP) -- China has been holding a 66-year-old American engineer for the past 1 1/2 years on suspicion that he bribed officials for secret documents, an attorney for his family said Saturday.
News of Fong Fuming's detention comes six weeks before President Bush plans to make his first visit to China since taking office.
Fong's family had previously kept silent about his detention, hoping that quiet appeals might win his release and avoid embarrassing friends and family in China, including Fong's 94-year-old mother, said Jerome A. Cohen, a New York University expert in Chinese law.
But after meetings with State Department officials and congressional staff and because of their mounting concern over Fong's treatment, his family has gone public in hopes that Bush's visit may provide diplomatic leverage to secure his freedom, said Cohen, who is advising Fong's family.
Cohen said Fong's detention violates Chinese law. Chinese government offices were closed Saturday and officials were not available for comment.
"The next step is to hope that the U.S. government, with the benefit of publicity... will be able to reach high enough into the Chinese hierarchy so that some leader is going to say: 'Get rid of this case, it's a loser, it's killing us, why are we doing it?"' Cohen said in a telephone interview from New York.
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