UPDATE 2-U.S. calls on China to release jailed geologist

* Geologist sentenced to eight years in jail

* U.S. says “extremely” concerned about due process rights

* U.S. ambassador says case “flimsy” and “opaque”
(Adds U.S. State Department comment, previous BEIJING)

WASHINGTON, July 6 (BestGrowthStock) – The United States on Tuesday
called on China to release a U.S. geologist jailed on charges
of stealing state secrets, but Beijing said other countries had
no right to interfere in what it called an internal affair.

Xue Feng, a 44-year-old U.S. citizen born in China, was
detained late in 2007 after negotiating the sale of an oil
industry database to his employer at the time, Colorado-based
consultancy IHS Energy, now known as IHS Inc.

The State Department said the United States was extremely
concerned about Xue’s rights to due process under Chinese law
after he was sentenced to eight years in jail, and it called on
Beijing to free him.

“We call on China to grant Dr. Xue humanitarian release and
immediately deport him back to the United States,” State
Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “The U.S. government is
deeply concerned for Dr. Xue’s well-being.”

The U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, said he was
disappointed by the sentence and that the prosecutor’s case
appeared “flimsy” and “opaque.”

“This is a case that we have highlighted repeatedly at very
senior levels of our government,” he told Reuters.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang earlier said
the sentencing was a domestic matter.

“China’s judicial departments have handled this case
strictly by the law. This is China’s internal affair,” Qin told
a news briefing in Beijing. “China’s internal affairs and
judicial sovereignty cannot be interfered with by foreign
countries.”

Xue was convicted of attempting to obtain and traffic in
state secrets, a year after his trial ended, said the Duihua
Foundation, which promotes prisoners’ rights in China and the
United States. The database was classified as a state secret
only after it was sold, it added.

China’s notoriously vague state secrets laws received
international attention last year when Australian citizen Stern
Hu and three colleagues working for mining giant Rio Tinto
(RIO.L: ) (RIO.AX: ) were detained for stealing state secrets
during the course of tense iron ore negotiations.

The four were later convicted of the lesser charges of
receiving kickbacks and stealing commercial secrets.

Huntsman said Washington would continue seeking Xue’s
immediate release, possibly on medical or humanitarian
grounds.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Huang Yan, Chris Buckley and
Andrew Quinn; Editing by Nick Macfie)

UPDATE 2-U.S. calls on China to release jailed geologist