Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi have detained a Taiwan businessman for allegedly helping local activists hijack state television signals on behalf of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned by Beijing as an "evil cult."
Chung Ting-pang, who manages a technology firm in the Hsinchu district of Taipei, failed to return home from a trip to Jiangxi as scheduled on June 19, after visiting his half-brother, his family said.
China's official news agency Xinhua said Chung was being held on suspicion of three separate criminal charges.
Chung is accused of "collecting secret documents from mainland Chinese citizens," and "mailing broadcast interference equipment to China and inciting Chinese citizens to disrupt broadcast services," the agency reported this week, in the first official word from Beijing on his case.
Chung also allegedly "used specialist broadcasting equipment, in conjunction with other people, to attack and interfere with mainland television program satellite signals," Xinhua said.
Chung is a Falun Gong practitioner, but his family says he is not involved in the operations of the organization.
A statement by Chung Ai, daughter of detained Taiwan businessman Chung Ting-pang.
"Originally, they said they were detaining Chung Pang-ting to assist with an investigation into Falun Gong," Chung's wife told RFA's Mandarin service. "Now they have brought out these references to crimes."
"It is not likely that Chung Pang-ting would do such things ... I think these accusations, based on what Chung Pang-ting is supposed to have described to them, are very dubious," she said.
Falun Gong activists have been accused of intercepting Chinese television programming and substituting their own material for broadcast a number of times in recent years, according to Chinese media.
At least nine Falun Gong practitioners have been charged in connection with the incidents, which included the hijacking of state-run CCTV's Channel 5 programming in the northwestern province of Gansu in 2002.
Local residents said the substitute programming took direct aim at the Chinese leadership, which banned Falun Gong in July 1999 after thousands of its members staged a silent protest outside the main leadership compound in Beijing.
The hijacked signal showed footage of Falun Gong followers being tortured, according to residents of Gansu's Beiyin city who watched it at the time.
The movement claims tens of millions of followers in China and abroad. Official Chinese media have consistently portrayed it as a fringe, fanatical sect.
Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of Falun Gong followers have been jailed and tortured, with thousands sent to labor camps without trial since 1999.
Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, the quasi-official body in charge of relations with Beijing, said it had requested assistance from its counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, regarding Chung's case.
It had also requested that the island's Ministry of Justice and Criminal Investigation Bureau help seek a resolution with Chinese authorities based on the cross-strait agreement on mutual legal assistance, officials said.
Reported by Lee Tung for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.