Slain Canadian Nobel laureate’s kin mum on talk of ‘dead man walking’

The case of missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai continued Monday as questions remained over whether she really sent a “secret” email that was meant to prove to a court that she had fled…

Slain Canadian Nobel laureate's kin mum on talk of 'dead man walking'

The case of missing Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai continued Monday as questions remained over whether she really sent a “secret” email that was meant to prove to a court that she had fled the country and defected to the United States.

Peng, who played in the French Open last year, is being tried for flight to avoid prosecution and other charges after she was detained by Chinese security in 2015 for alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

She is seen as a rising star in Chinese tennis and previously won the WTA doubles title at Wimbledon.

In a trial that began last week, Peng was quoted in a transcript of her testimony stating that she sent the email to her lawyer in Hong Kong while in a U.S. safe house to request asylum. The word “refugee” was written in Chinese characters.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Peng’s lawyer, Yale Wang, said it was possible Peng did email the lawyer in Hong Kong. “But he can’t be responsible for my compliance,” Wang said.

The case has highlighted the tense relations between China and Hong Kong and raised concerns that China was using Hong Kong to enforce its laws overseas. Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a deal that allows semi-autonomous status. Hong Kong’s government in January cited economic and social security reasons for stepping up efforts to extradite suspects accused of committing crimes in the city or abroad.

So far, the Justice Department has extradited 37 Chinese to China, though the first convictions came in 2010 when Hong Kong charged an American businessman with human trafficking. The businessman agreed to cooperate with authorities and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Wang also said Chinese authorities suspect Peng is not suffering from serious mental or emotional trauma because she was detained in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, about 900 kilometers (575 miles) south of Beijing.

“We think it is very unlikely that they would detain an individual in Shenzhen for four or five days and then simply set her free,” he said.

However, he noted that the additional testimony comes after a government psychiatrist said Peng did suffer from severe emotional distress and said the 26-year-old would not be able to function normally after her release from jail.

In a separate development Monday, China’s national airline suspended four employees for smuggling banned substances into the country.

China Southern Airlines said a former flight attendant and three cabin crew members were accused of trying to carry a “small quantity” of illegal substances onto five domestic flights last month. The airline identified the flight attendants as Kong Hongtao, Yun Tianfeng and Liang Yi-kang. All four employees were fired, according to a statement posted on the airline’s website.

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