Tibetan Man Convicted of Espionage Charges

China News Digest, 19 May 2001

[CND, 05/19/01] A Tibetan man allegedly planning self-immolation received an eight-year prison term after being convicted of espionage and separatism charges, AP reported on Saturday, quoting the official Xinhua news agency.

According to Xinhua, Chinese authorities took Cengdan Gyaco into custody last July after he traveled back to Tibet from Nepal. The 31-year-old Tibetan man was planning to set himself on fire outside a Tibetan Buddhism monastery in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. The government said Gyaco, who fled to India from Tibet in 1999, was trained as a spy and sent back to carry out the suicide plan by the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile .

Another man, Tugyi, was arrested on May 5 and charged with planning to film Gyaco's suicide scene and send the film to the United Nations. Tugyi has confessed to the charges, Xinhua said.

A spokesman for the exiled Tibetan government denied that it was behind the alleged plot, calling China's accusation absolutely false. (LIU Weijun)