An American geologist convicted this month of pilfering state secrets has appealed his eight-year prison sentence, arguing the information he collected should not be classified as secret, his lawyer said Friday.
Xue Feng insisted on appealing, said the lawyer, Tong Wei. The appeal, filed Wednesday with Beijing's Higher People's Court, argues that the sentence was overly harsh and the evidence insufficient to prove that the oil industry database he procured should be classified as a state secret, Tong said.
"We believe the court ruled in error," said Tong.
Appeals are rarely successful in China's court system. The database, which Xue turned over to his employer, the U.S. energy consultancy IHS Inc., contained information on 30,000 Chinese oil and gas wells. In finding Xue guilty, the trial court ruled that the government had declared the database's information a state secret, even though it had been prepared by a Chinese company and publicly offered for sale.
Xue's case has become a sore point for the U.S. government, which has tried quiet diplomacy to secure his release. State security agents secretly detained Xue in November 2007, holding him for weeks and mistreating him _ stubbing lit cigarettes into his arms _ before notifying the U.S. Embassy in Beijing of his detention. President Barack Obama raised Xue's case with China's president at their summit in November.