China snubs US, says jailing of geologist its own affair

China said the jailing of a US geologist, described by US as disappointing, was its own affair.

Beijing: China said on Tuesday the jailing of a US geologist on charges of stealing state secrets, described by the United States as disappointing, was its own affair and other countries had no right to interfere.

Xue Feng, a 44-year-old US citizen born in China, was detained late in 2007 after negotiating the sale of an oil industry database to his employer at the time, Colorado-based consultancy IHS Energy, now known as IHS Inc.

The US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, said he was disappointed by the eight-year sentence and that the prosecutor`s case appeared "flimsy" and "opaque."

"This is a case that we have highlighted repeatedly at very senior levels of our government," he told a news agency.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the sentencing was a domestic matter.

"China`s judicial departments have handled this case strictly by the law. This is China`s internal affair," Qin told a news briefing. "China`s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty cannot be interfered with by foreign countries."

Xue was convicted of attempting to obtain and traffic in state secrets, a year after his trial ended, said the Duihua Foundation, which promotes prisoners` rights in China and the United States. The database was classified as a state secret only after it was sold, it added.

China`s notoriously vague state secrets laws received international attention last year when Australian citizen Stern Hu and three colleagues working for mining giant Rio Tinto were detained for stealing state secrets during the course of tense iron ore negotiations.

The four were later convicted of the lesser charges of receiving kickbacks and stealing commercial secrets.

Huntsman said Washington would continue seeking Xue`s immediate release, possibly on medical or humanitarian grounds.

-Bureau Report

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