The imprisonment of Hua, a Stanford University scientist and permanent resident of the United States, raised objections from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his colleagues at Stanford University, and others. But nine years later, he remained in jail.
Hua was arrested while visiting China and accused of revealing state secrets, a charge used frequently against journalists who write about controversial matters. Charges are believed to stem from articles that Hua had written in academic journals about China’s missile defense system.
On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People’s Court overturned Hua’s conviction and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, and it appeared to be a response to international pressure. But the decision did not mean that he was freed.
Instead, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court issued a modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison in November 2000. News of Hua’s sentencing did not break until three months later, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing.
Requests for medical parole have been rejected. Hua suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.