Protester charged with harassing Chinese leader
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal charges were filed Friday against a heckler who interrupted an otherwise highly scripted ceremony welcoming Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House the day before, berating him for the persecution of the Chinese religious sect Falun Gong.
Wen Yi Wang, 47, was charged with harassing a foreign official, a federal misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by six months in prison and a fine of $5,000.
The federal law is designed to protect foreign dignitaries and official guests, and prohibits attempts to "intimidate, threaten, coerce or harass a foreign official or an official guest or obstruct a foreign official in the performance of his duties."
Wang appeared Friday before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in Washington, and a preliminary hearing in the case was set for May 3. She was freed on her own recognizance, but ordered to stay away from the White House. (View the charge against Wang -- PDF)
Wang is a naturalized U.S. citizen who works as a journalist for the Epoch Times and had a one-day press pass that gave her access to a photographers' platform at the ceremony.
A probable-cause statement filed in U.S. District Court said Wang "began to yell at President Hu in a loud voice for in excess of two minutes" as he was speaking.
"The defendant was frantically waving a yellow banner in the direction of President Hu, which read 'Falun Dafa is good' and also included writing in Chinese," the documents said.
An interpreter translated Wang's statements to Hu as, "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out," and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime," court documents said. (Watch Wang heckle Hu during a White House ceremony -- 1:33)
Wang then began to yell at President Bush, according to the documents, partly in English and partly in Chinese, saying, "President Bush, stop him from killing, President Bush, stop him from persecuting Falun Gong."
A cameraman standing near Wang pulled the banner from her hands and put his hand over her mouth, and the U.S. Secret Service escorted her from the platform.
Terri Wu, an assistant to the editor in chief of the Epoch Times, told CNN on Thursday that Wang has worked for the newspaper for a few years. Because she has a medical background, she wrote articles on issues such as bird flu and organ harvesting, Wu said.
Wu said the newspaper was "not aware" Wang planned to disrupt the ceremony.
"This was unexpected," Wu said.
"We have formally contacted the State Department and the White House press office to extend our apologies," Wu said. "We do not approve of this action, and we did not know about this action beforehand."
http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/04/21/ ... index.html