Saturday, September 19, 2009

Zhou Yongjun's Jailhouse Interview (English translation)

Date: May 25, 2009, Monday

Location: Detention Center, Suining, Sichuan

Interviewers: Attorney Shaoping Mo; Attorney Zerui Chen [also transcriber]

Interviewee: Yongjun Zhou

Mo: Are you Yongjun Zhou?

Zhou: Yes. I am Yongjun Zhou.

Mo: I am Attorney Shaoping Mo from Beijing. This is Attorney Zerui Chen.

Zhou: I have heard of Mr. Mo. However, I am not sure that you are really he.

Mo: We are entrusted by your family to be your attorney. It is your father who signed the agreement. Please see if it is your father’s signature.

Zhou: It should be.

Mo: Please sign it if you agree.

Zhou: But I don’t think my family could afford to pay a great attorney like you. I don’t want my father to sell his house for me.

Mo: Oh. Your case has something to do with politics. We haven’t charged your family one cent for this special case as of right now. Don’t need to be worried. Please sign it if you agree. Let’s continue. Were you a student of China University of Political Science and Law? What is your major?

Zhou: Political Science.

Mo: Are you familiar with China’s current law?

Zhou: I know the basics, but the law changes constantly, the specifics of which I don’t know.

Mo: Please check the agreement and sign it.

Zhou: I first have to make sure how much you charge us.

Mo: You don’t need to be worried about it. Your case is special and I will treat it in a special way.

Zhou: I learned politics at China University of Political Science and Laws. I heard about human rights attorneys in China when I was overseas. I never thought that you would be my attorney.

Mo: Let me give you a rundown about your current legal status. Pursuant to “Criminal Procedural Law,” you are still a suspect. Although you have been arrested, you are still in the hands of the Public Security Bureau’s investigation. You are a suspect rather than a defendant. From the date you were detained, you would be detained for 37 days at most. Since you were authorized to be arrested by the prosecution, the Public Security Bureau could detain you for two more months. After then, they have to obtain the authorization from the superior prosecution to detain you for one additional month. If your case is important and complex and the Public Security Bureau wants to detain you for longer, the Public Security Bureau has to obtain the authorization from the provincial prosecution in order to make your detainment extended for two more months. Then the case goes to the prosecution for their review. The prosecution has to make the decision on indictment in one and half a months, during which there are two chances for supplemental investigations, one month each chance. If the evidence is not sufficient, the prosecution may make the no-indictment decision. There was so-called being relieved of indictment, under law which is outdated. If they cannot find sufficient evidence, the only decision they can make is no-indictment.

[The director of the detention center came in unexpectedly.]

Zhou: Good! Director Xie is also here. Mr. Xie told me that I could see all my incoming letters. Please give them to me.

Director: I don’t have any letters for you.

Mo: Oh, let’s continue. We are your attorneys when you are under investigation so your family can engage us on behalf of you. Our job is to provide evidence to prove your innocence, lesser offence or being eligible to be relieved of criminal penalty. The authority law entrusted to the attorney is different from authorities given to the Public Security Bureau, prosecution and court. We can file complaints for you if you were coerced to confess by harsh interrogation or the law enforcement violated the law. We have this authority.

Zhou: I see.

Mo: Are you tortured to confess?

Zhou: Well, I was kind of entrapped to confess. Now, let me take three minutes to give you a clear introduction of this case.

Mo: You are good; you can take only three minutes to give us a clear introduction? Oh, even I cannot do it.

Zhou: This case is political. I went to Hong Kong from Macau on September 28, 2008, with a Malaysian passport, which they said was falsified. I bought this passport from an immigration service company, with which I went to Taiwan and Macau without any problem. The name on the passport is not Yongjun Zhou. It is quite accidental that I was detained in Hong Kong.

Mo: Do you have a U.S. green card?

Zhou: Yes, my green card started from February 4, 1993. I haven’t been naturalized. Since 9/11 the hurdle of immigration was getting higher. I applied for citizenship in 2002. It took a longer time. At the time I left the U.S., I was ready to be a citizen except for an oath taking. Therefore, I am only a national [permanent resident], a “quasi-citizen.” But I was very much homesick because my parents are in China, especially when the big Sichuan earthquake occurred last year. I tried to get a passport via my sister Sufen Zhou, but she tried in vain. Later I applied for a visa through China’s consulate general but was refused. The Chinese government took this matter politically rather than criminally. On September 28, I went to Hong Kong from Macau with the Malaysian passport. I thought there should be no problem with going to Hong Kong. However, the customs officers of Hong Kong found a problem with my passport. I did not disclose to them who I was. At noon of September 30, the Hong Kong Immigration office gave me a notice of denial of entry. I stayed at the police station at Hong Kong-Macau entry for 48 hours, when I was sick and treated. Later they said ‘sorry’ to me that they misidentified me and turned me back over to immigration. The immigration said they needed to verify my identity before letting me go. Then I was sent to a small hotel in Shenzhen by a vehicle, where I was shown a notice of detainment, on which the name shown on the passport was listed. I did not tell them my real name. On November 7 or 8, someone from Suining Public Security Bureau came to Shenzhen. Two of them came, one elder and another younger, one of whom was known to me. They interrogated me continuously on Saturday and Sunday, with Shenzhen police aside. On the 27th, they transferred me to Yantian detention center and forcefully changed my name to Hua Wang. I had told them of my real identity, but they wanted me to sign Hua Wang as my name, to which request I disagreed. I signed my name as Yongjun Zhou. Since November 27, I wrote many letters to my family and asked the police officers to forward. I went on a hunger strike when they refused to forward them for me. However, they refused my requests. They did not interrogate me any more and such situation continued until April. Later, the director told me that someone from superior authorities demanded them to detain me here. Thereafter, Shenzhen police came again to verify something, after which they showed me a notice of detainment. Later, I was moved to Suining on May 4.

Mo: Yes, your family told us all already. Your former cellmate told your family after he was released.

Zhou: Shenzhen Public Security police went to the hotel room in Macau where I lived and took away my belongings without my permission, against my will. They lost my belongings in the process. The list of attached belongings was lost because a new list was issued every time I was transferred. However, Hong Kong Immigration is in possession of an original list of attached belongings. It was shown on that document that my bank cards, credit cards, computer and documents were all gone.

As to the financial fraud case, the only reason for my investigation was something in the transcript of the interview conducted on me by Hong Kong police. My mistake is that I brought with me one copy. It was Hong Kong police who gave me such a copy. If I had not brought it with me, probably nothing would have happened. Hong Kong police showed me a copy of a letter, addressing Hong Kong Hang Seng Bank from an overseas address. They said the name on the letter is the same as that on my passport, and the letter demanded Hang Seng Bank to transfer 2 million Hong Kong dollars to an account with Citibank. I have nothing to do with this letter. I did not write the letter and I’ve never seen it. I denied involvement related to this letter when I was in the Public Security Bureau. I have nothing to do with it. (So they detained me.)

Mo: This is the only matter you are involved in?

Zhou: As to the financial fraud, this is the only reason why they accuse me.

Mo: Is what you told me here consistent with what you told the police? Any changes?

Zhou: Consistent. There is no change in the story; I have said it as it is consistently.

Mo: That is to say, you did not see this letter before, and you had nothing to do with this letter?

Zhou: No. I’ve never seen this letter.

Mo: You are suspected of committing criminal financial fraud. Pursuant to the Chinese law, the financial fraud is to make false representation or conceal material facts to induce others to rely on them to dispose of property.

Zhou: I did not do it. Hong Kong police did not think I had a problem. However, the Mainland police continued to pursue this case because it is related to politics.

Mo: According to what you said, you failed to disclose your identity to Shenzhen police. Pursuant to the law, the dates of the detainment would not be counted if the identity was not verified. The dates of the detainment would be counted from the date when the identity could be verified.

Zhou: Suining police came to Shenzhen in mid-November and they should have known my identity by then at the latest. As to why they detained me, the only thing I can say is for political reasons.

Mo: Okay, this is all for today. Please take care of your health. If you want to see us, you may tell Mr. Xie. How is your health? What do you want your family to send to you?

Zhou: My heart has a problem. Last time my sister mailed me some money [On May 8 the police called Zhou’s sister to deposit money for him]. I still have them now; I don’t need anything else.

Mo: Your friends overseas and the media paid attention to your case. What do you want to say to them?

Zhou: I thank them very much! Although I am in jail now without any freedom, I wish them living a happy life.

Mo: Ok. Please sign the agreement. Take care!

Zhou: Yes. Thanks!

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