After a decade-long imprisonment in China, Graduate School of Business alumnus Jude Shao MBA 93 was freed on parole early this month, ending years of efforts by his business school classmates to reverse his wrongful conviction.
Shaos release came after repeated denials of parole, which he became eligible for in 2006. Those involved in petitioning on Shaos behalf were taken aback at the abruptness of his release.
First it was disbelief, just because the notification came in an email from Jude saying he was at his sisters, said Chuck Hoover MBA 93, who was heavily involved in petitioning for the release of his former classmate. There was no warning that this was going to happen. Obviously, we are really excited for Jude. It took way too long for him to be released.
Shaos release came a day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ended a visit to Beijing. Rice, along with President Bush and dozens of members of Congress, has intervened with the Chinese government on Shaos behalf.
A U.S. citizen who founded an American medical equipment exporting company in China, Shao was arrested in Shanghai in 1998 on allegations of tax evasion. During a visit from tax auditors, Shao refused to offer a bribe in order to halt a government investigation of his company, according to his supporters. He was tried and convicted the following year, but was not allowed to meet with his attorney or review the evidence against him.
Following his conviction, Shaos former business school classmates reviewed the accounting records of his company, China Business Ventures, and found that he was innocent. In April 2003, six legal scholars from Chinas Peoples University found that Shao deserved a retrial, but despite repeated appeals, Chinese courts refused to review the evidence in the case.
Shaos classmates and friends never gave up, though.
At their 15-year reunion this past May, Shaos classmates wrote letters on his behalf, urging Rice to make his case a priority during her visit to Beijing.
Still, those who helped Shao will not have the chance to reunite with him anytime soon. Under the conditions of his parole, Shao cannot talk with foreigners without police consent and will not be allowed to leave Shanghai until May 2013.
But those who worked to free their friend and former classmate are pleased that he will be able to move on. During his decade-long incarceration, Shao learned that his father passed away and that his wife divorced him.
I would tell him how happy we are for him, that he got out, and that we really cant wait to see him, Hoover said.