A Chinese appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of US geologist Xue Feng [advocacy website], sentenced to eight years in prison for committing industrial espionage. The court's decision was immediately met with expressions of disappointment [official statement] by US Ambassador to China John Huntsman [official profile], who said that the US would ask China to consider an "immediate humanitarian parole." The proceedings in the case were brief [BBC report], and that brevity combined with the resulting decision raised old concerns about the lack of independence in the Chinese judiciary [AP report]. In addition to Xue, three Chinese nationals were also convicted for violating China's controversial state secrets law [JURIST news archive].
Xue originally appealed his conviction in July, arguing that the information he is accused of taking was widely available for sale on the Internet for seceral years. Xue had been convicted earlier that month [JURIST report]. Xue has asserted that he has been tortured while in custody, a claim that comports with a recent report by Human Rights Watch, which has accused China of failing to meet goals [JURIST report] the country had set for advancing human rights. In September, the Chinese government claimed to have increased human rights [JURIST report] by heightening Internet freedoms and improving civil and political rights.