China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mofa) has revealed that a British national, identified as Ian J Stones, was sentenced to five years in jail in 2022 for the “crime of illegally obtaining intelligence for overseas actors.”
According to a Mofa spokesman, Stones, who worked in China for four decades with major US firms like General Motors and Pfizer, appealed against the sentencing, but the case was upheld in September last year. This information was disclosed during a Mofa briefing on Friday.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Stones, around 70 years old, established a Beijing-based investment management consulting firm 15 years ago. The Mofa spokesman, Wang Wenbin, stated that the court had rigorously tried the case in accordance with the law, assuring that Beijing fully guaranteed Stones’ legitimate rights. British officials were reportedly allowed to visit him and attend the trial.
Stones’ daughter informed the WSJ that embassy officials and one family member were allowed to witness one hearing but not the actual trial. She claimed that none of them had been permitted to see any legal documents related to the case. She also asserted that her father, initially healthy during detention, received inconsistent medical care and poor nutrition leading to severe injuries.
Mr. Wang responded to the accusations, stating that Stones was accused of being bribed into providing intelligence by external forces. He added that the judicial organs strictly adhere to handling cases in accordance with the law, safeguarding the rights of both Chinese nationals and foreigners.
This disclosure aligns with China’s increasing publicity of alleged espionage cases involving Western countries. The country has initiated public campaigns to raise awareness of foreign spying, urging citizens to report suspicious activities. Earlier this month, Chinese authorities claimed to have detained an individual alleged to be spying for Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6. The BBC was unable to independently verify these claims.
The UK government maintains a policy of neither confirming nor denying claims related to intelligence issues. As tensions surrounding espionage cases escalate, this revelation sheds light on China’s assertive stance against perceived external threats to its national security.