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U.S. geologist accused of spying released from Chinese prison

By
Amy R. Connolly
U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's car arrives at Beijing's High People's Court to attend the ruling on U.S. geologist Xue Feng February 18, 2011. Huntsman, who is eyeing a possible run for the White House, decried the court for rejecting the appeal of the American jailed on industrial spying charges. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's car arrives at Beijing's High People's Court to attend the ruling on U.S. geologist Xue Feng February 18, 2011. Huntsman, who is eyeing a possible run for the White House, decried the court for rejecting the appeal of the American jailed on industrial spying charges. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, April 4 (UPI) -- An American geologist who spent more than seven years imprisoned in China for stealing state secrets was release and sent back to the United States, a human rights organization said.

Xue Feng, 50, was granted a 10-month sentence reduction because of good behavior, the San Francisco-based Dui Hua said. He was sent directly to the airport after his release to board a commercial aircraft to the U.S. and was reunited with his family in Houston. A State Department spokesman said the U.S. is aware of the situation but could not confirm the information.

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Xue, a naturalized American citizen born in China, was working in China in 2008 helping his employer, energy consulting firm IHS, purchase an oil industry database. After he bought the database, the information was classified a state secret and he was arrested.

Detained in 2007, Xue was tried in 2009 and sentenced in 2010. His case drew attention from the White House including President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. He received regular visits from U.S. ambassadors Jon Huntsman, Gary Locke, and Max Baucus, as well as their staff.

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