It was confirmed yesterday that the Chinese government has once again rejected NKnet researcher Kim Young Hwan’s request to meet his lawyer.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) yesterday revealed that Kim Young Hwan will continue to be detained without legal representation, saying, “On the 15th, Liaoning Province Ministry of State Security formally reported to our consul its refusal of a request for consultation not with the consul, but with a lawyer.”
The Chinese Ministry of State Security gave no reason for rejecting the request other than “in accordance with Chinese domestic law.” To date, Kim has received only 30 minutes with the Shenyang consular representative (on April 26th).
On this, the Committee for the Release of North Korea Human Rights Activist Kim Young Hwan pointed out in a press release, “This can only be seen as the illegal detention of a foreigner without evidence, and acknowledgement that that detainment is wrong. Not accepting the unquestioned right to the help of a lawyer in the process of the investigation is a clear violation of international law and a violation of human rights.”
“We demand that the South Korean government consider the importance of this case and that the Foreign Minister summon the Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and officially protest about four South Korean men being denied consultation with a lawyer. The Foreign Minister must step forward and bring up with the Chinese authorities that the denial of consultation with a lawyer does not fit the principle of humanitarian rights and does not help South Korea-China diplomatic relations.”
However, a MOFAT official moved to play down the anger, explaining, “According to the Chinese criminal code, five months imprisonment is possible with the right to two months extension. The South Korean government is being very careful about this, because within the Chinese legal system the case can be prolonged.”
“Chinese domestic law and South Korean diplomatic protection clash here,” the official went on. “We can’t just do what we want. The elements of a diplomatic dispute have already developed.”