Mother of wrongfully detained American on death row in China calls on Biden to confront Xi: ‘Say Mark’s name’
The mother of an American imprisoned in China for over 10 years and facing execution is calling on President Biden to take action during his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi to secure her son’s release for a crime she and many others say he did not commit.
‘President Biden, you need to please say Mark’s name and tell him [Xi] what do you want to let him go,’ Katherine Swidan, the 73-year-old mother of Mark Swidan told Fox News Digital on Monday, the 11-year anniversary of the day her son was wrongfully arrested by Chinese authorities.
‘We have the people, We have the military. We have the money. What’s the problem?’
Mark Swidan was 38-years old when he went to China on business looking for flooring for construction work in November 2012. He was arrested after his driver and translator were allegedly found with drugs.
A United Nations report determined that Swidan, who has no history of drugs, was not in possession of drugs on his person or in his hotel room, and records show he was not even in China at the time of the alleged offense.
The U.N. report said that the 11 other people arrested with Swidan as part of the alleged trafficking ring were unable to identify him and that the conviction was based on his visiting a factory that had once been used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Swidan’s mother told Fox News Digital she has ‘no confidence’ that Biden and the State Department will be able to secure her son’s release during Wednesday’s visit and bases that lack of confidence on communications she has received from government officials who are ‘sympathetic’ but unable to give her any concrete answers on where things stand with her son.
The State Department, in a press release earlier this year in response to China upholding Swidan’s death sentence, referred to his situation as ‘wrongfully detained’ and said the Biden administration is ‘personally focused’ on securing his release.
Swidan’s mother told Fox News Digital that he has not had a medical exam in 9 years and has 4 abscessed molars, several fractures, a dislocated knee, hands that have been broken 5-7 times due to torture and that he has lost over 100 lbs in confinement. She added that the last time a U.S. official visited Swidan, last August, the official was ‘horrified’ at Swidan’s physical condition.
Swidan said that the Biden administration has consistently told her they have a ‘plan’ to secure Mark’s release but that they have been tight-lipped about what that plan entails.
‘I don’t think you ever had a plan,’ Swidan said. ‘I don’t think you’ve talked to them about Mark. Everything I see in the news on every single station, everything I see points to you having a speech, having a good old time, praising China and saying congratulations on your historic whatever and that does not sit right with me. China only understands strength.’
Swidan’s mother says she was told by a U.S. official on Friday that her son had been moved to a new facility, Dongguan Prison, the previous week which she says she should have been told earlier.
‘I said how come nobody told me?’ Swidan recounted to Fox News Digital. ‘You can send me an email. It takes 2 minutes and I’m up all night anyway, because it’s daytime in China and I don’t want to miss a phone call.’
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, who represents Swidan’s home state of Texas, told Fox News Digital that ‘China’s imprisonment of Mark Swidan is unjust and an outrage.’
‘The Biden administration has everything they need to make his release a priority in their talks with the Chinese Communist Party,’ Cruz said. ‘Congress has spoken out repeatedly and unanimously to urge them to use the full range of American diplomacy to bring him home. Enough is enough. It must be a top priority.’
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, in a resolution earlier this year along with Cruz, wrote that the ‘human rights abuses Mark has suffered at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party are horrific and I will continue to push the Biden administration to expedite his case and secure his release.’
‘Mark Swidan, a Texan, has been in a Chinese detention facility for over a decade for a crime he couldn’t have committed—he wasn’t even in the country,’ Texas GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, posted on X last week. ‘When Chairman Xi flies to the US this month, the White House must demand Mark is on that plane with him.’
A State Department spokesperson directed a request for comment on any conversation Biden may have with Xi to the White House but said that the department ‘continually’ raises Swidan’s captivity during meetings with Chinese officials and that there is ‘no greater priority’ than Americans detained overseas.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
Swidan’s mother expressed frustration that Blinken seems to ‘running from country to country handing out money like its water’ while her son sits in prison sleeping on a concrete floor for over a decade.
‘Throw them [China] a billion and let him out, you know, because with hostage situations that’s what they want,’ Swidan said, adding that the Biden administration has had the ‘gall’ to tell her in the past that they don’t know what China wants in exchange for her son.
Swidan says she worries every day that her son’s deteriorating condition and inhumane living conditions will lead him to take his own life in prison before his release can be secured.
‘I’m not going to give up hope and even if something happens to him, God forbid, I’m still going after these people,’ Swidan told Fox News Digital. ‘Everybody that dragged their feet and made excuses whether they’re in China or in America. They are going to see the biggest global lawsuit they’ve ever seen and I don’t even want one penny out of it. I just want them to know what they did to this man.’
Biden is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday in San Francisco, California and the White House says the two leaders are expected to discuss the relationship between the United States and China, including the importance of maintaining ‘open lines of communication.’