Heckling Charges Dropped Against Chinese Activist

Charges will be dropped against a woman who heckled Chinese President Hu Jintao at an April White House ceremony, her attorney announced Wednesday.

Wang Wenyi, 47, faced a misdemeanor charge of intimidating, coercing, threatening and harassing a foreign official for interrupting the carefully choreographed April 20 event where President Bush welcomed Hu to the White House. She could have been sentenced to six months in jail and given a $5,000 fine.

At a court appearance Wednesday, Wang's attorney, David Bos, told U.S. District Court judge John Facciola that he and prosecutors had reached a deal to dismiss the charges. Details were not immediately available.

Wang said she is prohibited from confronting Hu over the next year. The case will be continued until then, and if she meets the requirement, the charges will be dropped, Wang said.

"Today is not the important thing," said Wang. "The important thing is all the Falun Gong practitioners who are losing their lives."

Standing on a camera stand with reporters, Wang shouted as Hu began his remarks. Speaking in Chinese and English, she said, "President Bush, stop him from killing," and urged Bush to "stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong." Hu paused briefly, but continued with his speech.

Wang shouted for several minutes and waved the red and yellow colors of the spiritual movement that is banned in China before uniformed Secret Service officers hauled her off the stand. A Chinese cameraman briefly tried to cover her mouth with his hand.

Wang, a New York pathologist and Falun Gong practitioner, received a credential to the event through the Falun Gong newspaper Epoch Times and the Secret Service said Wang was cleared through all appropriate levels of security. Bush later apologized to Hu for the disruption.

Wang said after her arrest that she was protesting human rights abuse in China, including the alleged organ harvesting from Falun Gong members, a charge that China denies. In July 2001, she also confronted former Chinese President Jiang Zemin on the island of Malta.

A federal magistrate judge agreed last month to delay a preliminary hearing for Wang as her attorneys tried to work out a deal to avoid a trial.

A spiritual organization that once had millions of followers, Falun Gong was banned by the Chinese government in 1999.