HOUSTON (AP) — An American woman who was arrested while on a business trip in China and later convicted of spying has been deported to the United States.
Jeff Gillis says his wife, “Sandy” Phan-Gillis, got on a flight to Los Angeles on April 28. The couple planned to stay in Los Angeles a few days to visit relatives before returning to their Houston home.
Gillis’ daughter Catherine Chan lives in Seattle. She told the Northwest Asian Weekly, “At this time, our family is spending time with her as she copes with returning to her normal life. We don’t have any other statements at this time.”
It was just on April 25 when Phan-Gillis was sentenced by Chinese authorities to 3 1/2 years in prison. But the sentence was seen as an indication that she soon could be allowed to return home.
Phan-Gillis is of Chinese descent, but was born in Vietnam and is an American citizen who lived in Houston and worked as a business consultant. Known by friends as “Sandy,’’ she made numerous trips to China for business and as a volunteer to promote cultural and business exchanges.
She disappeared from the rest of her group during a trip in March 2015 to promote business opportunities in Houston. It took her husband, Jeff Gillis, almost two weeks to confirm through American consular officials that she had been detained by Chinese state security.
She was later accused of espionage.
The Dui Hua Foundation said Phan-Gillis was the first American citizen to be convicted of spying in a Chinese court since 1973.
John Kamm, founder of Dui Hua, credited the Trump administration and particularly Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who visited Beijing last month for Phan-Gillis’ release.
Ruth Bayang contributed to this report.