Senator Ted Cruz calling on China to release Houston man 'wrongfully detained' more than 10 years

Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are calling on the release of a Houston man considered by United Nations as wrongfully detained in China.

In 2012, Mark Swidan was on a business trip in China to purchase flooring for construction work. On Nov. 13, 2012, Chinese authorities detained the then 38-year-old and accused him of trafficking drugs. However, records indicate Swidan hadn't even been in China during the time of the alleged crime.

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"We just want to get Mark home, so we can take care of him," said Mark’s mother Katherine Swidan. "They tried to coerce him to confess. Whatever they do to him, he will not ever confess to something he did not do. His passport shows that he wasn’t in China at the time of any crime."

In an interview Monday with FOX 26, Senator Cruz said he recently introduced a resolution calling for President Joe Biden’s administration to use every tool possible to free Swidan. 

"We’ve been engaged with Mark’s case for some time, with the Chinese government [and] with the State Department," said Cruz. "Because it wasn’t getting done, we made the decision that the next step to escalate the pressure was taking it public. I’m going to keep pressing because Mark needs to come home, and he needs to come home now."

Since being ‘wrongfully detained’, Katherine says her son has lost more than 100 pounds. She claims Chinese authorities have been torturing Mark and the now 48-year-old’s health is deteriorating. Katherine has been unable to speak with her son since 2018.

"The Chinese government won’t allow the U.S. Consulate personnel to talk to him," said Cruz. "They won’t allow his mother to talk to him. His conditions are dire."

Swidan is now appealing a death penalty sentence. According to his mother, he has been appealing the sentence for three years.

"His court for the appeal has been postponed 30 times," said Katherin. "No one can give a straight answer as to why he’s still there."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Friday, in response to a suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering across the United States. Katherine had hoped the meeting was going to include discussions about her son.

"I'm calling on the Biden administration to use all of the tools at our disposal to secure Mark's release," said Cruz. "And I'm calling on the government of China to finally release Mark."