SHANGHAI, July 3 The trial in China of a British
corporate investigator and his American wife and business
partner arrested a year ago after they did work for
GlaxoSmithKline PLC will be closed to the public, two
family friends with knowledge of the matter told Reuters
The detention of Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng has sent
shockwaves through the foreign business community. For years,
the community has relied on investigative firms such as the
couple's Shanghai-based company ChinaWhys to better understand
the Chinese business environment.
In April 2013, GSK employed ChinaWhys to investigate an
ex-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.
Three months later, authorities detained Humphrey and Yu for
illegally buying and selling private information. Chinese
authorities have not openly made a link between GSK and the case
The couple were subsequently arrested, which typically means
the police believe they have enough evidence for the case to be
brought to trial. They are being held in Shanghai, but it is not
known in which court they will be tried.
U.S. consular officials had been informed on Wednesday when
visiting Yu that they would not be able to attend the trial, and
that the decision to keep the trial closed had been made on the
grounds of privacy, according to the couple's family friends,
who declined to be identified because of the apparent
sensitivity of the case.
The trial date has also been pushed back a week to Aug. 7
from July 29, the people said.
The U.S. and British consulates declined to comment.
In China, court cases involving state secrets or national
security are regularly closed to the public. However, the
couple's son said in a statement this case involved neither.
"I am very worried that family and consular officials are
not allowed to attend my parents' trial. This does not involve
state secrets. This does not involve national security," Harvey
Humphrey, 19, said in the statement to media.
"I am surprised at this decision since China wants to
promote openness and the rule of law and I hope that they will
let me in."
One of the family friends said the defendants' lawyers had
been required by the prosecutor to sign non-disclosure
"The client doesn't even know what's going on," the person
said. The reason for the non-disclosure agreements was not
clear, but underscore the sensitivity of the case.
Officials contacted by telephone at the Shanghai
procuratorate and municipal intermediate courts said they did
not know about the case. There was no listing of the trial on
Aug. 7 or July 29 on an online docket for all of Shanghai's
China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to
faxed requests for comment.
Chinese authorities last month charged Reilly and other
colleagues with corruption, after a government investigation
found the firm made billions of yuan from elaborate schemes to
GSK's tangled web of problems in China were highlighted in a
lengthy draft report seen by Reuters. The report had been
prepared by ChinaWhys and presented to GSK on June 6 Last year.
The report into the origin of the video and emails did not
reach a conclusion as to who was behind the actions.
Humphrey previously worked for Reuters in Asia, Eastern
Europe and the Balkans, according to the website of ChinaWhys.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Ryan Woo)