(NewsNation) — Texas businessman Mark Swidan has remained in a locked cell in a Chinese prison for more than a decade. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, believes that if Swidan were a WNBA player or journalist, he would already be home.
“For more than ten years Mark Swidan has been trapped in hell, in a Chinese prison. They have sentenced him to death on trumped up charges. This is wrongful imprisonment, and it’s about time Mark Swidan needs to come home,” Cruz told “On Balance” host Leland Vittert.
Despite the lack of evidence, Swidan is currently facing a death sentence in China related to drug-related charges.
In 2012, Swidan traveled from Texas to China to buy materials to remodel her home. He was arrested on charges of trafficking and manufacturing methamphetamine, but US leaders have argued that Swidan was not in China at the time of the alleged crime. The United Nations says Swidan was arbitrarily detained.
Swidan has been imprisoned in China during three presidencies: former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump and current president Joe Biden.
Cruz criticized the Biden administration for not paying public attention to Swidan’s situation. In December, the White House hosted a high-level prisoner exchange, where Russia released WNBA star Brittney Griner in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. In recent weeks, President Joe Biden has urged Russia to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The White House condemned Gershkovich’s detention “in the strongest terms.”
Cruz believes the Biden administration is not mentioning Swidan because he is imprisoned in China.
“Joe Biden will not say his name. Kamala Harris does not say her name. Tony Blinken. I mean, there are all kinds of administration officials who could stand up, who could denounce the Chinese,” Cruz said, later adding: “This administration has been afraid to stand up to China and unfortunately Mark Swidan is paying the cost of that. .”
Swidan’s mother, Katherine Swidan, shares the same sentiment.
“I’ve contacted so many people and he’s never number one,” Katherine Swidan told NewsNation’s Markie Martin. “I think the government is choosing and I still think they are because Biden has never contacted me.”
Cruz acknowledged that his office has worked with the Biden administration and that they raised the Swidan case with China. But, earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken abruptly canceled a high-risk trip to Beijing after a high-altitude Chinese balloon floated over the US.
According to Cruz, his team had been lobbying the State Department to make Swidan’s case a top priority for Blinken on that trip, but the balloon caused a change in plans and apparently efforts on Swidan’s behalf.
“Since then, we haven’t seen any progress with Mark Swidan,” Cruz said.
The Texas senator believes the best hope for bringing Swidan home is to exert diplomatic pressure on China.
“The Chinese communist government is a tyrannical government, but they don’t like it when you turn up the heat. There is power to shine a light. There is power to call them. There is power to shame them,” Cruz said.
He continued: “I hope that the more pressure, the more heat, the more attention there is on Mark Swidan, then ultimately the Chinese government will decide, you know what, it’s not worth the trouble, let’s send him home.”
The House unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday urging China to release Swidan.
Swidan, now 48, appealed his sentence. Earlier this month, the Jiangmen Intermediate Court of the People’s Republic of China denied it. He now has a two year suspended death sentence.
Cruz said: “It is time for China to send this American hostage home.”