NEW YORK (CBS) – Two American siblings with Massachusetts connections have been trapped in China for nearly a year, prevented from leaving because of an “exit ban.” In a video shown exclusively on CBS This Morning Thursday, Cynthia and Victor Liu are making a public plea for help.
“We’ve done nothing wrong and we need to go home,” Cynthia Liu, 27, says. “We wake up every morning terrified.”
The Trump administration told CBS News that China has given no legitimate explanation for holding the Liu siblings, who went to the country in June of last year to visit their dying grandmother. But their estranged father, Liu Changming, is one of the most wanted fugitives in China. He’s the former executive of a state-owned bank linked to a $1.4 billion fraud case.
Both Liu siblings attended the prestigious Groton school in Massachusetts and their mother owns a $2.3 million house in Chestnut Hill, according to The New York Times. But Cynthia Liu says neither she nor her 19-year-old brother have any way of contacting their father who “abandoned” them years ago. Their lawyer says the pair are being used as “human bait.”
“We feel trapped,” Cynthia Liu said. “We live with constant distress because this is not our home and we are not here by choice.”
The siblings believe China is monitoring their electronics. They are also upset that they cannot speak with their mother, who is in a Chinese prison for reasons that are not clear.
Exit bans are used by China to let foreigners move around the country, but not leave, according to CBS News. The bans can last days or years, even without accusations of wrongdoing.
Massachusetts senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Rep. Joe Kennedy III, have all urged the United States to intervene, according to The Times.