San FRANCISCO (BCN) — A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled on Tuesday that a Chinese woman who is not a member of Falun Gong but who brought news clippings about the spiritual movement into China is eligible for asylum in the United States.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the woman, Ling Zhou, had a well-founded fear that she would be persecuted because of her action if she returned to China.
Circuit Judge David Thompson wrote, “The evidence shows that the Chinese government perceives Zhou’s actions as a threat to its political power – a threat that motivates the government to locate and arrest her.”
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According to the court ruling, Zhou was formerly a supervisor at a private software company in China and made repeated business trips to Singapore.
In 2000, a college classmate who was a Falun Gong practitioner asked her to bring back some news articles from Singapore that would show how the foreign press portrayed Falun Gong and the Chinese government’s actions against it.
In May 2001, Zhou brought her friend 20 articles from Singapore newspapers that were critical of the Chinese government’s treatment of Falun Gong.
Later that month, Zhou left for a previously planned trip to the United States. While she was in the United States, Zhou learned that her friend was arrested and that police searched her apartment in Guangzhou and her parents’ home in Loyang in an attempt to arrest her for bringing “counterrevolutionary materials” into China from overseas.
Zhou then applied for asylum, but lost before an immigration judge and an immigration appeals panel.
The 9th Circuit overturned those rulings, saying that Zhou had provided compelling evidence that she could be arrested, imprisoned or assigned to hard labor on the basis of what the Chinese government viewed as a political opinion.
The appeals court ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals to block Zhou’s deportation and sent the case to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to decide whether to grant asylum.
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