Wenyi Wang, Woman Who Heckled Hu, Could be Jailed

Will Bunch notes that Wenyi Wang, the protestor who shouted down Chinese President Hu at a the White House, might be arrested and charged under a law that provides up to six years in prison for one who “intimidates, coerces, threatens, or harasses a foreign official or an official guest or obstructs a foreign official in the performance of his duties.” He wonders why the Right, especially Michelle Malkin, who hailed Wang as a hero, have been silent on the matter. [Update: Malkin spoke out this morning, noting that “it would be a crying shame for Wang’s case to move ahead while accused cop-assaulter Cynthia McKinney skates.”]

In my own case, it’s because I had not heard about the arrest until now. While I actually disagree with both Malkin and Bunch on the valor of Wang’s actions (as explained here), I nontheless agree with Bunch that imprisoning her, let alone under this law, would be unwarranted. The WaPo editorial board got it exactly right:

WENYI WANG acted rudely when she yelled and waved a banner at visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao during his White House appearance Thursday. The Secret Service was right to hustle her off the grounds. President Bush was right to apologize. But does Ms. Wang deserve to go to prison for six months?

[…]

[N]o one alleges that Mr. Hu was ever in danger of anything more serious than irritation or humiliation. According to the court documents, the yelling caused Mr. Hu “to interrupt his speech” and look toward Ms. Wang. There’s no question that it also caused Mr. Bush to be embarrassed about a lapse of protocol for a visitor acutely sensitive to diplomatic niceties. Okay, but the United States shouldn’t indirectly apologize to the Chinese by means of an action that affronts American values.

I’m not sure what the penalty for her transgression should be. Surely, though, it does not involve a lengthy stint in jail.

FILED UNDER: Asia, Law and the Courts, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    I’m no fan of the Falun Gong, and I really fault the white house for giving the Epoch Times a press pass for the reception in the first place. Don’t they know that the Epoch Times is run by the Falun Gong and have published all kinds of outrageous nonsense to support its views? I don’t get around very much, but even I know that because the old Chinese lady down the street has been putting those irritating papers in my mailbox for a year now. It’s not fit to be used to pick up dog poop. But I digress, we need to be really careful about using these laws against protesters.

  2. Herb says:

    People protest every day and everywhere in The USA. Reporters heckle the WH Press Secretary.
    We see heckling in both Houses of Congress.
    We see heckling everywhere.

    It’s called “Freedom of Sp each”

    Unless we here in the US and especially in our Government, practice what we preach, Then so much for Freedom of Sp each.

    On top of that, That Chinese Leader needed heckling.

  3. >Iâ??m not sure what the penalty for her
    >transgression should be.

    Considering the foreign official involved, I personally think a reward would be more in order.

  4. Alan says:

    She was there representing the Epoch Times, a news organization. The penalty should be to ban Epoch Times’ reporters from White House events for some period of time. If Epoch Times also wants to fire her, suspend her or dock her pay, that’s their business.

  5. Roger says:

    I agree with Herb completely.

  6. anjin-san says:

    This is but one battle in the Bush admin’s war on free speech.

  7. Dr. Wang is the lead researcher for Epoch Times NY’s conveniently timed “Sujiatun Auschwitz” allegation that has since being discredited:

    http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2006&m=April&x=20060416141157uhyggep0.5443231&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html

    Given Dr. Wang’s profession as a pathologist, and New York’s recent string of grisly illegal cadaver organ harvesting cases, it’s not hard to see how she put two and two together and rehashed the 1970’s era anti-communist tall tale of people sentenced to vivisection.