und-raiser held for alleged Chinese spy

by Peter Johnson

A fund-raiser to recover legal fees incurred by Dr. Wen Ho Lee was held Sunday at Wesley United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.
The event, attended by about 250 people, featured lecturers speaking on Lee’s behalf and gave historical perspective to discrimination against Chinese-Americans.
Lee was a nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and stood charged with 59 counts, including treason and espionage, for allegedly stealing nuclear secrets for China.
He has since agreed to a plea bargain which set him free from solitary confinement, but leaves him a convicted felon — a fact many supporters complain is unjust.
Dr. William N. Sullivan, co-chairman of the Albuquerque Wen Ho Lee Defense Committee, said Lee’s imprisonment was the result of unfounded hysteria.
“We cannot wave the national security flag and throw our rights out the window,” Sullivan said.
Former Ambassador to Burma and Carleton College professor Burton Levin compared the Lee investigation to a witch hunt, echoing memories of McCarthyism.
Levin said suspicious feelings toward China and misunderstanding were the root causes.
“It is very improbable that a person born in Taiwan in 1939 would go out and spy for China,” Levin said — referring to the decades old political animosity between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, Lee’s birthplace.
Ling-Chi Wang, chairman of ethnic studies at University of California-Berkeley, put Lee’s case in historical perspective by outlining the U.S. government’s attitude toward Chinese people.
“Since when is an American citizen convicted without a trial and subjected to the harshest punishment without a conviction?” Wang asked.
Speakers raised questions of citizenship and acceptance for Asian-Americans, who sometimes feel like foreigners in their home country.
“Wen Ho Lee is a model minority: he’s a high achiever, outstanding scientist and a solid family man. Diligent, loyal and apolitical — the type of minority America likes to single out,” Wang said.
Alberta Lee, Wen Ho Lee’s daughter, spoke of the investigation’s effect on her father and family.
“He lost his right to vote and bear arms,” she said. “We have an ongoing civil suit against the Department of Energy, Department of Justice and the FBI.”
Lee is free, having been convicted of one count and sentenced to time served.
“We’re trying to gather ourselves again and get back into the swing of things,” Alberta Lee said.

Pete Johnson welcomes comments at [email protected]