Protester charged after disrupting Hu welcoming

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WASHINGTON (AP) – A woman accused of heckling Chinese President Hu Jintao during a White House appearance was charged Friday with a misdemeanor of willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official.

Wang Wenyi, 47, had obtained temporary press credentials as a reporter for a Falun Gong newspaper and positioned herself Thursday on a camera stand in front of the platform where President Bush and Hu stood.

According to Secret Service translations provided in court documents, she shouted in Chinese: “Stop oppressing the Falun Gong,” as well as “Your Time is running out,” and “Anything you have done will come back to you in this lifetime.” She also shouted in heavily accented English: “President Bush, stop him from killing,” and “President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong.”

She was waving a banner with the red and yellow colors used by Falun Gong, a banned religious movement in China.

Standing beside Bush, Hu had just begun his opening remarks when the woman started yelling. Hu paused briefly, then resumed speaking even though the woman kept screaming for several minutes before Secret Service agents led her off the stand.

A group of 35 to 40 supporters attended Wang’s arraignment Friday.

Wang, who is from New York, was released on the condition that she remain there and come to Washington only to consult with her attorneys or attend legal proceedings. She must also stay away from the White House.

If convicted, she could receive up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Shortly after she was released, Wang read a prepared statement to reporters, calling her protest an individual act of conscience.

“It’s not a crime, but an act of civil disobedience,” she said.

It wasn’t Wang’s first incident with a Chinese leader. In July 2001, she confronted then-President Jiang Zemin as he made an unscheduled tour on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Wang said she introduced herself, then urged Jiang “to stop the killing of Falun Gong practitioners in China.”

Security officials whisked Wang away, but Jiang called her back and spoke to her in Chinese, witnesses said.

“He was very agitated and told me that Falun Gong practitioners were killing themselves,” Wang said later.

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