A Chinese woman has claimed that she was arrested and held for eight days in a Chinese-run secret detention facility in Dubai along with at two Uyghurs. If her claims are true then this could bring an end to years of speculation that China is operating a so-called "black site" beyond its borders.
Wu Huan, 26, has claimed that she was on the run to avoid extradition back to China because her fiancÃ© was considered a Chinese dissident. This was the reason she was also arrested by Chinese authorities. However, instead of keeping her in China, she was exported to a Chinese-run jail in Dubai.
China's Dark Secrets
Wu told Associated Press thatshe was abducted from a hotel in Dubai while she was on the run and then detained by Chinese officials at a villa converted into a jail, where she saw or heard two other prisoners, who were both Uyghurs. There, she was detained for at least eight days.
Wu also claimed that she was forced to sign documents incriminating her fiancÃ© for harassment and that she had to take permission from guards to drink water and use the bathroom while in custody.
"Black sites" or secret prisons are common in China. However, there has been no evidence that China had similar detention centers beyond its borders. Wu's account is the only testimony known to experts that Beijing has set one up in another country.
This at the same time reflects how China is increasingly using its international clout to detain or bring back citizens it wants from overseas, whether they are dissidents, corruption suspects or ethnic minorities like the Uyghurs.
China Denies Claims
Both China and the UAE have denied Wu's claims. AP was also unable to confirm Wu's claims given that she couldn't pinpoint the exact location of the black site. Denying her allegations, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, "What I can tell you is that the situation the person talked about is not true."
Dubai Police also said on Monday that any claims of a Chinese woman detained by local authorities on behalf of a foreign country are false, and that Wu freely exited the country with her friend three months ago.
Wu, however, claims that she fled Dubai on fears of getting arrested again. Black sites are clandestine jails where prisoners generally are not charged with a crime and have no legal recourse, with no bail or court order. Many in China are used to stop petitioners with grievances against local governments, and they often take the form of rooms in hotels or guesthouses.
That said, reporters have seen and heard corroborating evidence including stamps in her passport, a phone recording of a Chinese official asking her questions and text messages that she sent from jail to a pastor helping the couple.