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The mother of Mark Swidan, a U.S. citizen who was wrongfully imprisoned in China, fears he may take his own life

Washington – The mother of Mark SwidanA Texas businessman who was wrongfully imprisoned in China said she fears he may take his own life after more than a decade behind bars.

“We are very concerned and afraid that Mark will end his life,” Katherine Swidan recently told CBS News after U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns visited her son at the Chinese detention center where he is being held.

A US official confirmed the visit in mid-March and said the US had been concerned about Mark Swidan’s condition for some time. Burns told Mark Swidan that he hoped to take him home with him on his next visit, according to Katherine Swidan, who said she spoke to her son on the phone for the first time in six years in March.

She said her son believed the U.S. was whitewashing his prison conditions.

“It’s ten times worse,” he said, according to his mother. “Biden must act to release me now.”

Mark Swidan has been in a Chinese prison since his arrest in 2012 on drug trafficking charges, which he denies. According to his mother, he traveled to China to buy flooring and furniture. However, it is said that he was not in the country at the time of the alleged crimes a review his case by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

A Chinese court confirmed his death sentence in 2023 with a two-year reprieve. The State Department objected to the ruling, saying it was “disappointed by this decision” and would “continue to press for his immediate release and return to the United States.”

Mark Swidan has been imprisoned in China for more than a decade.

Swidan family

His family and supporters have long worried about his poor health and say he was tortured, including having both of his hands broken and his kneecaps forcefully dislocated. He also said he lost more than 120 pounds. Mark Swidan detailed his conditions in letters to his mother.

“His leg is so swollen that you may not be able to remove the brace from his leg without cutting it off,” Katherine Swidan said in February during a news conference with the Bring Our Families Home campaign, which advocates for the unjust release Detainee uses Americans. “He is sick. He only eats bread every day.”

The State Department believes Mark Swidan and two other Americans — Long Island businessman Kai Li and California pastor David Lin — are unjustly imprisoned in China. a rare designation The US government is doing everything it can to ensure his release. There are dozens of wrongfully detained Americans in countries around the world, including Russia, China and Afghanistan.

President Biden called for the release of Americans wrongly imprisoned during a call According to White House spokesman John Kirby, he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.

“The President also reiterated his call for China to release U.S. citizens who are unjustly detained or banned from leaving the country,” Kirby said at the White House press conference.

It was the first time the two leaders spoke since they met at a high-level summit in California last November as tensions rose between the two countries. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are expected to continue high-level talks between the countries during separate visits to China in the coming weeks.

Katherine Swidan said in February that she was increasingly “fed up” with the government’s inability to secure her son’s release and was “working with lawyers to explore all options.”

“I’m convinced they’ll let him die and then it’ll be over. You don’t have to worry about it,” she said. “There comes a point where they have to be held accountable and I’m the one who does it. So I’m not afraid.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach out 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also Chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here. More information about Mental health resources and supportThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by email at

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