China frees 3 activists who probed Ivanka Trump supplier

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Li sent two letters to the White House, one of which urged Trump to use her influence to gain the release of the three men.

"This is a way of keeping people under pressure, under police control, without subjected them to actual confinement", said Jerome Cohen, a law professor at New York University and a Chinese human rights expert.

Hua declined further comment but said he had not been mistreated.

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In October, Huajian had confided to AFP that the group had produced approximately 100 000 pairs of shoes Ivanka Trump in recent years -and even though Donald Trump was complaining that during her campaign the companies launching operations in China.

The company said it operates lawfully and that China Labor Watch "invented so-called "facts" by illegal means of buying undercover work, which has already affected the enterprise's normal business seriously and affected the survival and employment of tens of thousands of staff".

Huajian Group has denied the allegations.

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The activists' lawyers said their actions were not criminal and they hoped Chinese courts would conduct a fair trial, the US -based China Labor Watch said. China Labor Watch said two were taken from a hotel room while the third was detained by customs officials in the southern city of Shenzhen while en route to Hong Kong.

China Labor Watch was planning to publish a report in June alleging low pay, excessive overtime and the possible misuse of student interns.

The U.S. State Department called for the activists to be freed earlier this month, which China rebuffed, saying the case was an "internal matter". They had been detained for about a month for allegedly using bugging and eavesdropping devices while collecting information about a plant owned by shoemaker Huajian Group in the southeast province of Jiangxi. The three were detained by police in late May.

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Marc Fisher Footwear, which makes Ivanka Trump shoes under license at the Chinese factory that was investigated by the labor rights group, has said it was looking into the allegations.

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