Chinese suspect held for consulate arson attack

Updated: 2014-01-08 00:30

By CHEN JIA in San Francisco and PU ZHENDONG in Beijing (China Daily)

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Chinese suspect held for consulate arson attack

David J. Johnson, FBI special agent in charge of the San Francisco division, announces on Monday that a suspect has been detained for the arson attack on the Chinese consulate. CHEN JIA / CHINA DAILY

A 39-year-old Chinese national, suspected of an arson attack on the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on New Year's Day, surrendered to local police by calling 911 two days after the blaze, the FBI said on Monday.

David J. Johnson, FBI special agent in charge, told the media that the suspect, Feng Yan, has permanent residency status in the United States and is being held in federal custody.

However, media reports said later that the FBI made a mistake with the suspect's name, which should be given as Yanfeng Feng.

The FBI said Feng, who lives in Daly City near San Francisco, told federal agents he was not driven by politics but by "voices he had been hearing".

Johnson said, "Right now, we're looking at this as a purely criminal matter."

FBI spokesman Peter Lee told China Daily on Monday the case is not related to a blaze at the security gate to the rear of the consulate in 2008.

The suspect has not been confirmed as having a relationship with any organization, Lee said.

Feng has been charged with malicious arson and willfully damaging property belonging to or occupied by a foreign government. The FBI said that if convicted, he will be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Tuesday's daily news conference that China will continue to pay close attention to the case.

"At the same time, we urge the US to investigate the matter and to take all measures to safeguard the security of China's diplomatic and consular agencies and staff in the US," Hua said.

Although no one was hurt in the nighttime attack on Jan 1, the fire left the consulate with a charred doorway, dirty facade, broken windows and a damaged lobby.

A new gate has since been bought, stairs and outside walls repaired and the national emblem, signboard and stone lions in front of the gate have been replaced.

An official at the consulate said the US government will cover all expenses.

Police arranged for 24-hour surveillance at the consulate after the incident.

Consulate spokesman Wang Chuan said after the FBI news conference that the consulate has noted the efforts made by the US to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrator to justice. "We urge the US to learn from this incident and to take effective measures to ensure the safety and dignity of Chinese diplomatic and consulate missions and staff in the US," he said.

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