Rio Tinto Employees: Case “hasn’t totally moved away from ‘state secrets'”

Stern Hu and his three Rio Tinto colleagues have been formally charged of infringing trade secrets and of bribery. Accusations of espionage or stealing state secrets were apparently dropped. A law professor with the Penn State University, Larry Catá Backer, had previously warned that “if an illegal economic activity changed into a political crime, it might well produce collateral effects, “from creating suspicion about the integrity of markets, to the inability of the Chinese state apparatus to convince others that its enterprises are not public interventions in otherwise private markets”. Forbes now quotes the professor that dropping the initial accusations made perfect sense in that it provides a means of continuing to build a separation between political and economic action. To Rio Tinto’s understanding (Update 3 on its website), no formal charges had been laid, but an arrest warrant has been issued that enables the authorities to continue the detention of the employees during further investigations. Rio Tinto’s Update 3 on the situation of its Shanghai employees also cites the Chinese Criminal Law articles to which the grounds for the arrest for further detention are, or may be, relating.

The Global Times reports today that the charges do not include stealing China’s state secrets, as the media reported earlier. However, the case hasn’t totally moved away from “state secrets”, according to the executive director of a Beijing-based law firm.

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Related: Once You get Arrested, July 9, 2009

6 Responses to “Rio Tinto Employees: Case “hasn’t totally moved away from ‘state secrets'””

  1. The Global Times is not the only news medium that’s made an attempt to ratchet up diplomatic pressure again over the Stern Hu arrest. Both Xinhua and to a lesser extent China Daily are doing the same. I am not sure whether they are unhappy with Rio’s new statements or if they are trying to influence price talks.

    I’m not going to post any links here, least my comment will be zapped into your spam folder again. You should be able to find these news report with a quick Google search.

    Talking about spam folder, your last trackback link to my recent blog post has also been zapped into my spam folder. I’m wondering if someone has been tempering with our blogs’ setting.

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  2. Methinks wordpress is tampering with the settings. The way I had put the filter allowed for three links already, and for even more now. But it even swallows my own trackbacks!

    Global Times is just another CCP mouthpiece, but different from the People’s Daily, it wants to reach ppl beyond the party line. I’d say the stuff quoted by the Global Times, about the Rio Tinto case not having moved totally away from “state secrets”, is an eye-catcher among Huanqiu’s English-speaking readers. (It is one in terms of blog traffic here, too ;))

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  3. WSJ China Journal just released the names of the newly appointed attorneys for three of the Rio accused. They are all very famous Shanghai based lawyers who are experienced in handling high profile cases. Stern Hu’s lawyer is Duan Qihua, a US trained lawyer and a member of the CCP Political Consultative Assembly. The line up suggests that there’ll be plenty of behind the door lobbying and negotiation between Rio Tinto and Beijing.

    I’ll try to post the WSJ link. In case if I fail, please rescue me again from your spam folder:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal/2009/08/14/rio-tinto-four-obtain-chinese-legal-representation/

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