Defector's kidnap backtrack Catherine Armitage and Cameron Stewart 11jun05
SERIOUS doubts have been cast on one of the key claims renegade Chinese diplomat Chen Yonglin used to justify his attempted defection to Australia.
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Mr Chen accused Beijing of mounting a kidnapping operation on Australian soil to take hostage the student son of a fugitive Chinese politician to coerce his return home to face justice. But yesterday he backed away from the claims when confronted by new evidence. "I said that in fear, and I don't want to talk about it again," he told The Weekend Australian.
The runaway diplomat had earlier told The Australian through a minder, Jin Chin, that the student, Lan Meng, was kidnapped by Chinese agents in Sydney, "taken by fishing boat to a Chinese cargo ship on the high seas", then held hostage in China to force his father to give himself up.
But Lan Fu's lawyer, Zhu Yongping, emphatically denied the kidnap story this week, insisting his client had given himself up voluntarily.
Mr Zhu told The Weekend Australian that Lan Meng was not in China at the time of his father's trial.
The Weekend Australian has also established that a young man named Lan Meng, now 23, was living in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham from November 1999 until November 2000.
This suggests that he was in Melbourne for at least three months before Mr Lan returned to China, casting further doubt on the story that he was kidnapped and taken to China in the lead-up to Mr Lan's return.