| BEIJING, July 17
BEIJING, July 17 China will try in public a
foreign couple linked to drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc
on charges of illegally obtaining private information, state
media said, after the United States and Britain raised concerns
about access to the trial.
Chinese prosecutors announced charges against British
investigator Peter Humphrey and his U.S. wife on Monday. The
couple were detained last year following work they did for the
British pharmaceutical firm.
Two family friends with knowledge of the matter told Reuters
this month that the trial was set for Aug. 7 and would be closed
to the public. The secrecy around the trial had raised concerns
among British and U.S. officials.
The couple "will be tried in public" the official Xinhua
news agency said on Thursday, citing a statement from the
Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court.
"The two defendants hope their families can attend the
trail," Xinhua said. It did not give further information on the
The case against Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, has
become a key piece in a long-running investigation into GSK,
whose China executives have been charged with orchestrating a
widespread network of bribery to promote sales.
The U.S. and British embassies had pressed China on the need
for a transparent and fair trial. The United States cited a 1982
bilateral consular convention between the two countries that it
said gave officials permission to attend such trials.
China's Foreign Ministry had said the proceedings would be
handled according to law.
ChinaWhys, the risk consultancy run by the couple, was
employed by GSK in April 2013 to investigate a former employee
suspected of sending anonymous emails, including the circulation
of an intimate video of former GSK China head Mark Reilly with
his girlfriend as well as emails containing allegations of
widespread bribery at the British drugmaker.
Humphrey appeared on state-run China Central Television
(CCTV) on Monday, saying he and his wife "deeply regret"
breaking any Chinese law. He added that their firm would not
have worked with GSK if the drugmaker had informed him about the
full details of the whistleblower emails.
His apology reiterated a similar statement he made to CCTV
in August last year after the couple were arrested.
Courts in China are tightly controlled by the ruling
Communist Party, and defendants are almost always convicted.
Access to trials is extremely limited.
"I am very pleased and grateful. I certainly want to attend
the trial, and I can't wait to see my parents after more than a
year," the couple's son, Harvey Humphrey, said in a statement
sent to Reuters.
Xinhua had reported earlier that Humphrey and Yu had paid
people in Beijing and Shanghai to purchase personal information.
Citing the prosecutor on the case, the news agency alleged they
had been fully aware of the illegality of their actions.
Between 2009 and 2013, the couple obtained private
information through investigations into nearly 1,000 firms and a
large number of private individuals, including household
registration data, real estate and vehicle documents, and phone
records, Xinhua added.
Humphrey had worked for Reuters as a journalist in the 1980s
(Additional reporting by John Ruwitch in Shanghai; editing by