China has indicted a U.S.-based scholar accused of espionage and will soon try her, probably after a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, her family's lawyer said Wednesday.
Gao Zhan is expected to be tried by the same Beijing court that on Saturday convicted an American business professor, Li Shaomin, of spying for Taiwan and ordered him deported.
Gao's trial threatens to cast a cloud over Powell's visit, expected at the end of the month. The visit, Powell's first to China as secretary of State, comes as Washington and Beijing are trying to patch up ties shaken by the collision in April of an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet, as well as China's detentions of other scholars and businesspeople with U.S. citizenship or connections.
A three-judge panel at Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court is expected to try Gao behind closed doors. The trial will most likely take place the week of July 30, "probably right after Secretary Powell's departure from Beijing," said Jerome A. Cohen, a New York University law professor who is representing Gao's family in the United States.
Gao works at American University in Washington and has permanent U.S. resident status. She was detained Feb. 11 at Beijing's airport during a family trip to China.
Chinese authorities also temporarily held her 5-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, without notifying the U.S. Embassy as required by treaty.
Cohen said state security agents claim that Gao supplied secret documents to Li, the American scholar convicted of spying. Li's wife denied the accusations.