Peter Humphrey, a former private investigator in China who recently won release from a Shanghai prison, this week disclosed he has prostate cancer, a condition he alleges was worsened by terms of a nearly two-year incarceration.
Mr. Humphrey said in a statement and telephone interview from his home in Surrey, England that a prostate problem he experienced while imprisoned — but which went untreated — was recently diagnosed as a malignant cancer. “It wasn’t caught early enough because I was denied the medical attention that I needed,” said Mr. Humphrey.
The 59-year-old Briton said he has begun treatment for his condition but that it could take up to two years for him to know its success.
Mr. Humphrey, a self-employed investigator and former journalist, worked in China for over two decades on behalf of multinational corporations. He spent almost two years in custody in Shanghai during an investigation and subsequent conviction before his early release and deportation in June. Prosecutors alleged that along with his wife and partner, U.S. citizen Yu Yingzeng, Mr. Humphrey violated various statutes related to Chinese personal privacy. The two were released around the same time.
Now Mr. Humphrey says he is making public his health condition as part of a formal complaint by his family in a 50-plus-page report addressed to China’s State Council, or Cabinet. He said the report, which documents his treatment and asks the central government to investigate, was recently delivered to Chinese authorities through diplomatic channels.
As summarized in the statement, the report alleges “abuse of power” by senior members of Shanghai’s Political and Legal Affairs Committee, a Communist Party organization that effectively controls the police, prosecutorial and judicial organs as well individual officials from those bodies.
Among Mr. Humphrey’s allegations is that prison officials as often as weekly requested his signature on a confession before they would permit him to get a full diagnosis and treatment of his prostate, which was giving him trouble behind bars. After pressure from the U.S. and U.K. consulates and despite his refusal to confess, the statement says, Mr. Humphrey was eventually permitted a diagnosis in April, and its dire findings became a basis for his early release.
Chinese officials in the past have defended their handling of Mr. Humphrey, who immediately after his release said his treatment had worsened his health. In June an official at Shanghai Qingpu Prison, where Mr. Humphrey was held, said “his disease was not caused by the detention.” The official added that the prison was able to provide relief but didn’t have the ability to cure Mr. Humphrey. “Every prisoner’s medical care is guaranteed in our prison,” the official said.
Also in June, Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said that Mr. Humphrey’s claims of mistreatment are “not true” and that “relevant Chinese authorities provided [Mr. Humphrey and his wife] with the due rights and interests,” adding that the couple had satisfied court conditions for sentence reductions.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman declined additional comment on Friday, while the Shanghai municipal government didn’t immediately respond to questions.
Mr. Humphrey’s statement calls on China’s central government to punish those involved in decisions relating to the case, as well as an unnamed “individual who manipulated” the authorities. It calls for unspecified compensation to Mr. Humphrey and his family.
By telephone, Mr. Humphrey declined to discuss who was or wasn’t a past client of his investigations business ChinaWhys Co. but said the individual who allegedly “manipulated” Shanghai authorities was a former subject of his investigation work.
The statement from Mr. Humphrey coincides with a visit to the U.K. by Chinese President Xi Jinping. “The fact that (the Chinese president) here is significant, and hopefully the central government leadership will investigate what happened in Shanghai,” Mr. Humphrey said.
–James T. Areddy. Follow him on Twitter @jamestareddy.