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Chinese president heckler's charges dropped

Wenyi Wang
Wenyi Wang, accused of heckling Chinese President Hu Jintao during a Thursday White House ceremony, waves outside court in Washington, D.C. on Friday being released from custody.Caleb Jones / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Falun Gong follower who heckled Chinese President Hu Jintao at a White House ceremony has reached a deal with prosecutors under which all charges against her will be dropped, her attorney announced Wednesday.

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

Her attorney, David Bos, told U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Facciola at a hearing Wednesday that he and prosecutors had reached a deal to dismiss the charges.

Wang, 47, said she is prohibited from confronting any foreign officials over the next year. The case will be continued until then, and if she has not committed any felonies -- including confronting foreign officials -- the charges will be dropped, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

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

Wang, a New York pathologist and Falun Gong practitioner, received credentials to the White House event through the Falun Gong newspaper Epoch Times. Falun Gong, a spiritual organization that once had millions of followers, was banned by the Chinese government in 1999.

At the White House ceremony, Wang stood on a camera stand with reporters and 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 Falun Gong before uniformed Secret Service officers hauled her off the stand.

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