Emails sent to a Chinese dissident in the Netherlands about his family were fake, officials say | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Emails sent to a Chinese dissident in the Netherlands about his family were fake, officials say

Original Publication Date June 28, 2024 - 8:21 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Emails sent to a Chinese dissident living in the Netherlands over his petition for asylum for his family members detained last year in Thailand were apparently fake, Dutch authorities said Friday.

The announcement was the first public statement from officials in the Netherlands in the unusual case of Gao Zhi, whose family members were stranded for months at a Thai immigration center while en route to the Netherlands and allegedly accused of sending bomb threats.

Based on emails he said he received, Gao at the time alleged that the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service had revoked his family's visas, which would have allowed them to travel to the Netherlands.

He showed purported screenshots of the emails to the media, including one that ultimately said visas for his family members were revoked as they were being investigated for bomb threats made in Thailand. It remains unclear who sent the emails.

Gao declined to forward the emails to The Associated Press at the time, saying he feared this could jeopardize his family's asylum case. The AP could not verify the authenticity of his claims.

On Friday, Britt Enthoven, a spokesperson for the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the “message indeed doesn’t seem to be from” the service.

"I cannot give you any further information about the message,” Enthoven said.

Gao, though critical of the Chinese government online, had never been an activist back home. But his story at the time raised concerns that Chinese authorities may have made the bomb threats in the name of Gao's family to try and control his political activities abroad.

Gao's wife and two children were traveling to the Netherlands to join him in June and July last year, and transiting through Thailand. His wife, Liu Fengling, and daughter Gao Han were detained by Thai police for overstaying their visitors visa. His son was not detained.

A spokesperson for the Royal Thai police at the time did not respond to AP queries about the case.

Gao turned to public advocacy to try and get his family out, and was helped by Wang Jingyu, another Chinese dissident living in the Netherlands who had gained prominence after being detained in Dubai for questioning the Chinese death toll figures in the 2020 border clashes with Indian soldiers in the Karakoram mountains.

Gao’s family was released last October, but only managed to travel to the Netherlands with a proper visa earlier this month, he said.

Separately, Gao has since claimed that Wang defrauded him of thousands of dollars while allegedly trying to help him during this process — claims that Wang dismissed as "nonsense" in a message to the AP.

Bob Fu, a U.S.-based activist who runs ChinaAid, a Christian rights organization, and who helped Wang when he was detained in Dubai, said that the group was forced to pay thousands of dollars of phone bills Wang allegedly made while in the Netherlands.


Associated Press writers Jintamas Saksornchai in Bangkok and Michael Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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