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.