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U.S. businessman accused of being mob boss in China

By Gillian Wong

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 7:16 a.m. MDT

On occasion, Wu's arms were tied behind his back with a rope that was then strung from a ceiling beam — a torture method dubbed the "suspended airplane," he told his lawyers. If he fainted, he was woken with water or chemical stimulants.

"As soon as I did not cooperate, they hit me, hanged me," Wu told his lawyers, according to a copy of the deposition provided to The Associated Press by Wu's family.

Wu's legal adviser, Li Zhuang, said more than 20 witnesses also were tortured. During a pretrial meeting at the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Monday, Wu's lawyers demanded that the court keep their testimony out of Wu's trial, which they expect to begin within a month.

An official at the Huizhou police bureau's propaganda department said he "had not heard" that interrogators might have tortured Wu.

Wu left China in the late 1970s as a stowaway to neighboring Hong Kong, where he obtained residency. He moved with his family to the U.S. in 1994, settled in Los Angeles and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

Even as an American, Wu spent most of his time in China, tending to his businesses and visiting Los Angeles twice a year, his daughter said. But she said he was also active in Los Angeles' Chinese-American business community; photos provided by her show him hoisting an American flag as he welcomed then-Vice President Xi Jinping — now the president — to the city early last year.

Chinese authorities have denied Wu access to U.S. officials, saying they regard him as a Hong Kong resident because he last entered China on a Hong Kong identity card.

U.S. officials have sent several notes to Chinese authorities about Wu's case, Wu's daughter said. U.S. Embassy spokesman Nolan Barkhouse said American officials were monitoring the case but could not comment out of privacy concerns.

Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

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