Jailed Ivanka Trump Shoes Unionist Freed
After spending a month behind bars, they are freed but the exploitation from Trump's daughter continues
NYU's Cohen called it saving face.
GANZHOU, China (AP) — After a month behind bars, three Chinese investigators who went undercover at a factory that made Ivanka Trump shoes walked freely out of the local police station Wednesday. But they still face an uncertain future and the threat of a trial.
Chinese authorities released the three, who have been accused of breaking the law by using secret cameras and listening devices. They were freed on bail, which is extremely rare for individuals who have been detained for alleged crimes, a possible sign they won’t be formally charged and put on trial.
But they’re not in the clear yet. Political dissidents and other activists who are released in China typically face restrictions on what they can do and say — including comments to the media.
“This is a way of keeping people under pressure, under police control, without subjecting them to actual confinement,” said Jerome Cohen, a law professor at New York University and a Chinese human rights expert. “Whether they are prosecuted depends on how they behave.”
One of the activists, Hua Haifeng, was clearly relieved as he held his 3-year-old son outside the police station in Ganzhou, a city in southeastern Jiangxi province.
“I appreciate the media following my case the last month,” Hua told The Associated Press, “but I’m not ready to speak yet.”
When they disappeared in late May, Hua, Su Heng and Li Zhao of the labor rights group China Labor Watch were preparing to publish a report alleging low pay, excessive overtime, crude verbal abuse and possible misuse of student labor at Huajian Group factories. Some of the factories produced Ivanka Trump shoes, among other brands.
Huajian Group has denied allegations of excessive overtime and low wages. It says it stopped producing Ivanka Trump shoes months ago. Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brands company, said that its products had not been produced at a factory in Ganzhou since March but “the integrity of our supply chain is a top priority and we take all allegations very seriously.”
NYU’s Cohen said he suspects the case now may follow the pattern of the one against Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist who was released on bail in 2011 and never faced trial.
“I think this is face-saving way to get rid of the case,” Cohen said.