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House demands China immediately release detained US man

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The House unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that calls on China to release Mark Swidan, a U.S. citizen who has been detained in the country since 2012.

The resolution cleared the chamber in a 418-0 vote.

Swidan traveled from Texas to China in 2012 to buy materials for his home which he was remodeling. However, he was arrested on accusations that he was trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine.

U.S. leaders have said Swidan was not in China at the time of the alleged crime. The United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has said that Swidan was arbitrarily detained.

Swidan has been in a jail cell for over a decade living in awful conditions. He was convicted in 2012 and received a death sentence with a reprieve. Earlier this month, the People’s Republic of China’s Jiangmen Intermediate Court denied Swidan’s appeal and upheld his death penalty sentence with a two-year suspended death sentence.

On Monday, NewsNation spoke exclusively with Katherine Swidan, Mark’s mother. about her calls for her son’s return home.

“I’ve contacted so many people and he’s never number one,” Katherine Swidan said. “I think that the government is cherry-picking and I still think they are because I have never been contacted by Biden.”

Swidan’s mother shared how her son has lost more than 100 pounds while being in prison. 

Actor Mel Gibson has also joined the calls for Swidan’s release.

“He faces a death sentence. He’s a man of great faith. An American patriot and he refuses during his captivity to renounce either his faith or his country,” Gibson said. “The U.S. government has demanded his release and we as Americans should stand up for this man who represents the best of us.”

On Tuesday, lawmakers also condemned China for refusing to allow Swidan to regularly speak with his family or have any access to medical care or U.S. diplomats.

In a statement, a U.S. Department of State spokesperson described Swidan as being wrongfully detained, and said the U.S. continues to call for his release, adding that President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken remain focused on bringing Swidan home. 

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