Houston woman detained in China


Efforts are ramping up to free a Houston businesswoman who is being detained in China amid accusations of spying.

Sandy Phan-Gillis was last seen at a border checkpoint near Hong Kong in March. She was there as part of a trade delegation with Houston city officials.

“My wife is not a spy,” Jeff Gillis said. “My wife is not a spy. She is not a thief.”

Jeff Gillis hasn’t spoken to his wife since March 23.

He got a phone call from her a few days after she was stopped at a Chinese checkpoint. But there was no mention of her capture. She told him she decided to extend her business trip.

“I am picturing them with the phone up to her head saying, ‘This is what you can say,'” Jeff Gillis said.

It has now been six months. He later learned through the U.S. Consulate in China that Sandy was being detained, accused of being a spy. She was officially arrested and moved into a prison over the weekend.

“This is not the police,” Jeff Gillis said. “This is a spy agency patterned after the Soviet-era KGB. This is scary stuff.”

Desperate for help, Gillis is now reaching our publicly trying to get his wife of 13 years home.

“I am concerned that if we can’t get her released this week, that it could very easily be years,” he said. “My wife is not guilty of anything. She needs to be let go.”

Phan-Gillis, 55, has been to China more than 100 times. She is a naturalized American citizen of Chinese descent who was born in Vietnam.

Chinese president Xi Jinping visits the U.S. this week and Jeff Gillis is hoping speaking out publicly will pressure the Chinese government.

U.S. consulate employees are allowed to visit with Phan-Gillis once a month and are allowed to pass along emails and letters from her friends and family. Phan-Gillis is prohibited from speaking to anyone else. Jeff Gillis said consulates have not visited with his wife since being moved to the prison.

Jeff Gillis said he is anxious to hear about what kind of conditions his wife is being kept in.

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