MILPITAS, Calif. (Reuter) - Human rights activist Harry Wu, expelled from China after being convicted of spying, said Friday he would have starved himself to death if Chinese authorities had made him serve a jail sentence.
Wu, expelled Thursday after a Chinese court convicted him of spying and sentenced him to 15 years in jail, said he had decided to go on hunger strike if Chinese authorities made him serve any of the jail term rather than deporting him.
``I decided if they put me in the jail even one month or two months or three months (and were) not going to deport me, I decided to have a hunger strike unto the death,'' Wu said.
``That's the only choice: freedom or death,'' Wu told a news conference in the living room of his home in Milpitas, 50 miles south of San Francisco.
Wu, 58, a naturalized American citizen who has angered China by documenting charges of human rights abuses in Chinese labor camps, was arrested after entering China June 19 and spent two months isolated in a small cell.
His expulsion was expected to ease troubled Sino-U.S. relations and opened the way for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to attend a U.N. conference on women in China early next month.
The White House announced Friday that Mrs. Clinton will attend the conference. It said her decision was based ``upon the recommendation of the president's national security team.''
Wu, who sometimes joked and at others appeared close to tears, looked weak and emotionally drained after his imprisonment, which turned into a high-profile irritant to Sino- U.S. relations.
Wu said that when he was reunited with his wife Ching Lee at San Francisco airport Thursday night, he asked her to remarry him. ``I confessed to my wife: 'I didn't think about you a lot because thinking a lot I would go mad.'''
He said he told himself: ``Don't think about it. I don't have a family. I don't have good things outside. I have to prepare for my death.''
A charge of espionage can carry the death penalty in China.
In an interview with Reuters, Wu was adamant that he would go on with his struggle to end alleged human rights abuses in China's labor camps.
``The fight is continuing. (There is) no way for me to give up or withdraw a single inch,'' he said.
Wu said he is committed to returning to China one day but declined to say whether he would risk imprisonment by going back. He said Chinese authorities would jail him again if he did return.
``This is the place I was born. This is the place I want to die. Of course I will go back,'' he said. ``I have my blood, my tears in the Chinese soil.''
``The government won't welcome me, (but) that doesn't mean the government will last forever,'' said Wu, who previously spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps.
Wu told reporters he lied in a confession Chinese authorities say he made. ``Should I be honest to liars? It is true I lied,'' he said.
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