An Asia expert who grew up in southern Vermont will be free to circulate his book about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) organ black market, after Taiwanese authorities found insufficient evidence of libel.
Taiwanese authorities will drop defamation charges against Ethan Gutmann after the author alleged in his 2014 nonfiction book “The Slaughter” that Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je was involved in the CCP’s forced organ harvesting practices.
The Taipei District Prosecutors Office found there was not enough proof that Gutmann and publisher Brian Wu deliberately damaged the reputation of the mayor by releasing a Chinese translation.
“[There was] some misunderstanding arising from the translation between Chinese and English,” a representative for the prosecutor’s office said according to Taiwan News.
Gutmann welcomed the prosecutor’s decision as a reasonable “stalemate.”
“The prosecutor was fair, I had the evidence [to back my statements, and] Taiwan is a democracy,” he said on Facebook.
Gutmann had allegedly used a press conference in late 2018 to suggest the mayor was an “intermediary” for Taiwanese patients who wanted to procure human organs from mainland China.
The author also suggested the official had taught extracorporeal membrane oxygenation techniques to doctors on the mainland, creating a “perverse incentive” for the clinicians to use those skills to harvest organs from live Falun Gong adherents and other peaceful groups that are persecuted on the mainland.
Ko, who vehemently denied the allegation, became angered after Gutmann suggested the incumbent was a “liar” and demanded an apology within 24 hours.
Since neither Gutmann nor Wu expressed remorse, the official launched a defamation lawsuit against the pair, fearing the allegations would ruin his chances of being re-elected.
“I have lived in the United States before, so I know that calling a person a liar in the United States is a serious accusation,” Ko said according to the Taipei Times.
Despite experiencing nearly two years of potential litigation, Gutmann still expressed his love for China.
“I love Taiwan,” he said on Facebook with a photo of himself visiting the prosecutors’ office back in 2018.
Ko is holding talks with his legal advisers on what his next step should be.
From 1992 to 1999, Falun Gong enjoyed immense popularity with an estimated 70 million to 100 million people practicing in mainland China alone. The practice has also spread to the United States and more than 70 countries across the world while Falun Gong books have been translated into over 40 different languages.
However, the CCP grew increasingly unsettled by the group’s rapid growth and the high number of influential party members who joined. In late 1999, Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin decided to arbitrarily arrest and torture adherents to death, confiscated and destroyed more than 2 million Falun Gong books, and ordered state-run media to publish hundreds of articles that defamed the practice.
The two decadeslong human rights crisis has caused at least 4,363 known Falun Gong adherents to be persecuted to death, with “tens of thousands more [cases] to be confirmed” according to the latest data collected by the Minghui website. The CCP’s policy to cremate the deceased bodies of victims without asking permission from family members has only added to the difficulty in ascertaining exactly how many Falun Gong adherents have been persecuted to death since 1999.