UK-US Couple Held In China For 'Selling Data'
A British corporate investigator and his American wife have been arrested in Shanghai on suspicion of illegally buying and selling personal information about Chinese citizens.
Former journalist Peter Humphrey and his wife Yingzeng Yu are accused of obtaining people's addresses, as well as information about their families, homes and cars, and selling the details to lawyers, manufacturers and financial companies.
Police in Shanghai claimed the pair had "seriously violated the legitimate rights of citizens" and said they were formally arrested earlier this month.
Humphrey, speaking in Mandarin as he appeared on state television with his face blurred, said: "To obtain this information, I sometimes used illegal means. I want to apologise to the Chinese government."
A spokesman from the British Embassy said: "We are aware of reports in the Chinese media relating to Peter Humphrey.
"We were concerned to see that Peter Humphrey was interviewed about the details of a case which is currently under investigation and has yet to come to trial.
"We are continuing to provide consular assistance to Mr Humphrey and his family."
Humphrey and Yu run a company called ChinaWhys, which offers services including the screening of potential employees or business partners.
Chinese companies use such firms to protect themselves against fraud, embezzlement or misconduct by employees or business partners.
Humphrey, who worked as a foreign correspondent for 20 years, studied at Durham University and founded ChinaWhys in 2003.
He was detained as police investigated bribery allegations against drugs company GlaxoSmithKline, one of the companies he worked for, Reuters said.
Chinese police have detained four GSK executives claiming they organised a scheme to funnel bribes to doctors in return for buying its products.
It is not clear whether Humphrey's arrest is linked to the probe.
A report last week claimed that western firms were warned about illegal practises at a meeting in a Beijing hotel in July.
China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) held a closed-door meeting with representatives from around 30 foreign firms, including Siemens and General Electric.
At the meeting, the firms were reportedly warned about corruption and violating Chinese law.
One source claimed the Chinese official had said half of the companies in the room were either being investigated or had been probed by the NDRC.
Sky's China Correspondent Mark Stone, in Beijing, said: "Over the past few months, the Chinese operations of a number of foreign companies have been subjected to probes by Chinese investigators, ostensibly as part of a country-wide crackdown on corruption.
"The focus on foreign firms is seen as being increasingly aggressive and could threaten foreign investment in China.
"Given how important the Chinese market is to foreign companies, none will want China to become too risky a market in which to operate."
According to a profile on his company's website, Humphrey's achievements include eliminating fraud in the buying operation of a well-known chain of stores, uncovering fraudulent deals for a global appliances manufacturer and helping recover a kidnapped child in China.