An American businessman arrested in Communist China over a decade on apparently flimsy charges of drug trafficking will be put to death, Chinese government officials have announced.
Mark Swidan, a Houston, Texas businessman, was arrested in November 2012 and sentenced to death in 2018 on charges he was in China to smuggle illegal drugs.
John Kamm, chairman of the Dui Hua human rights foundation, tells Newsweek “the only ‘evidence’ against him is that Swidan once visited a factory where Chinese authorities allege the meth was manufactured, and that he had been in a room rented by another person where drugs were found.” Swidan was also not in China at the time of the alleged drug trafficking and none of the alleged co-conspirators know who he is.
Swidan denies the charges and has refused to sign confessions.
Swidan appealed his sentence, which was recently upheld by a Chinese court. He has been held in the notoriously brutal Jiangmen Prison and subjected to psychological torture and physical abuse.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is leading an effort in the U.S. Senate to secure Swidan’s release.
“The Chinese Communist Party has unjustly detained Mark Swidan for over a decade. They have subjected him to physical and psychological abuse and atrocities. Today’s announcement is an escalation in this detention and abuse. It’s completely unacceptable,” said Cruz in a statement denouncing the upheld death sentence.
“Mark Swidan was convicted and sentenced to death on false charges. The Chinese court’s decision today is outrageous. It confirms that China is engaged in hostage taking and hostage blackmail. They aspire to be part of the community of nations, but these tactics are those used exclusively by Third World despots,” said Cruz.
“Mark’s conditions are dire. The Biden administration should use every tool available to secure Mark’s safe return to Texas. It is clear that the Chinese Communist Party is committed to continuing their blackmail until the U.S. uses appropriate leverage to secure his release,” said Cruz.