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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Australia grants diplomat visa
Chen Yonglin
Chen Yonglin has been in hiding in Australia with his family since May
Australia says it has granted a permanent visa to a fugitive Chinese diplomat and his family who wanted political asylum.

Chen Yonglin, a former political consul in Sydney, has been in hiding in Australia with his wife and six-year-old daughter since May.

Mr Chen has said he was defecting because of China's continued persecution of dissidents.

The Chinese government said Mr Chen made up stories to avoid going home.

Persecution

Mr Chen has said he feared for his safety if forced to go back to China.

The diplomat, who alleged that the Chinese have an extensive spying network in Australia, was responsible for monitoring Chinese dissident activity in Australia, including the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

He said Australian authorities had initially refused his asylum request on 26 May.

Immigration ministry spokesman Kirk Coningham confirmed Mr Chen and his family were given protection visas, typically awarded to those fleeing persecution.

The case comes at a delicate time, as Australia and China are trying to deepen economic and political ties.

Mr Coningham said: "There hasn't been any ministerial intervention or anything like that, it has just been the normal process for a protection visa."

Fu Ying, the Chinese ambassador to Australia, told a news conference that Mr Chen had nothing to fear if he went back to China.

She accused Mr Chen of greed and lying about his homeland.


SEE ALSO:
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06 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
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04 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China walks nationalist tightrope
03 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's intolerance of dissent
07 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China defends human rights record
01 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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