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Tuesday, February 24, 1998 Published at 15:57 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Executed prisoners' organs 'offered for sale'
image: [ A typical operating theatre. FBI agents posed as buyers from a kidney dialysis centre, ]
A typical operating theatre. FBI agents posed as buyers from a kidney dialysis centre,

Two Chinese men have been arrested in New York for allegedly trying to sell human kidneys, corneas and lungs which had been taken from executed Chinese prisoners.

The two were arrested by undercover FBI officers as they apparently tried to sell the organs, as well as skin, livers and pancreases for transplant to an agent posing as the head of a kidney dialysis centre.

Former prosecutor

The FBI says one of the men said he was a former Chinese state prosecutor. He is alleged to have discussed how prisoners are executed in China and how their organs are removed.

[ image: Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who now lives in America]
Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who now lives in America
One of the men, Xingqi Fu, 35, was released on bail on Monday. Cheng Yong Wang, 41, is due to appear in court on Wednesday.

If convicted, they face up to five years in jail and fines of up to $250,000 (£153,000).

Harry Wu discusses China's policies (Dur 2'15")
US Attorney Mary Jo White said: "Trafficking and profiteering in human organs is ghoulish, criminal conduct that imperils the most vulnerable."

The men allegedly offered two corneas for sale priced at $5,000. The FBI also recorded a telephone call in which Wang allegedly said the profit on selling corneas could be as high as 1,000%.

'Harvesting' allegations

Human rights groups have long claimed the practice of 'harvesting' organs from executed prisoners is widespread in China - something the Chinese government has always denied.

In 1993, Amnesty International called on the Chinese government to ban the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners but said the practice continued.

In a May 1995 Senate hearing, Amnesty International reported that the percentage of transplanted kidneys in China estimated to come from executed prisoners was as high as 90%.

Execution rate

It also reported that 77% of all executions that took place in the world in 1993 occurred in China, including 62 executions in a single day.

Chinese dissident, Harry Wu, who now lives in America, told BBC Radio's Today programme that the arrests support his claims that there is a trade in human body parts which is run with the knowledge of the Chinese government.

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