U.S. Geologist Sentenced in China for Selling State (Petroleum) Secrets

photo xue feng jailed china ihs

Courtesy David Rowley.

A U.S. geologist has been sentenced to eight years in a Chinese prison for allegedly violating state secret laws. And in this age of energy, of course it's petroleum information that got Dr. Xue Feng in trouble. CNN.com reports that Xue, a naturalized U.S. citizen, also was fined about $29,500 for allegedly providing intelligence abroad by selling a database on China's oil industry to a Colorado consulting firm.

Xue was working in China for IHS Energy, according to The New York Times.

The geologist was privy to information in a database about the petroleum potential of given areas, University of Chicago's Dr. David B. Rowley tells CNN, but the info was common and didn't contain state secrets.

Xue has reportedly been tortured with cigarette burns by Chinese authorities. Rowley and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman have called for the release of Xue, who's already been detained for two and a half years. U.S. authorities are said to be "dismayed" by the sentence.

"The sentence, which some human-rights advocates called unusually harsh, appeared to underscore the Chinese government's acute sensitivity to any matters involving its hunt for natural resources to fuel economic growth," writes Michael Wines in The NYT.

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