New York Chinese authorities have been detaining a 66-year-old American for the past 1 1/2 years on suspicion of gathering state secrets, an attorney for his family said Friday.
Fong Fuming, an electrical engineer from West Orange, N.J., was imprisoned in early 2000, said New York City lawyer Jerome Cohen.
"We would like to get him out of detention," Cohen said. "He's being held in blatant violation of China's criminal procedure law."
U.S. officials in Beijing said they trying to safeguard Fong's rights.
"The embassy has been working with Mr. Fong's attorneys, the prosecutors office and with his family to protect his rights as an American citizen detained in China," an embassy spokesman said.
A U.S. diplomat has "visited him frequently while in detention but we must respect his rights as an American citizen under the privacy act not to divulge any further information about his situation," the spokesman said.
Cohen said the family of Fong, a naturalized American, is breaking 18-months of silence in an effort to gain his release. Most American families of Chinese descent who have relatives being detained by China tend to remain quiet in the hope that the relative eventually will be released.