Actor Mel Gibson has joined the call for the release of a Texas man currently on death row in China.
The Academy Award-winning actor sent a video message to NewsNation on April 25 in which he states that Mark Swidan has been wrongfully detained for over a decade.
Swidan, now aged 47, was arrested in China and convicted of drug trafficking in 2012. Records later revealed, however, that Swidan was not in China when the alleged crime happened.
Swidan, who was a businessman at the time, reportedly traveled to China to export flooring and other building materials for his company. He was sentenced to death in 2019 but his execution has been delayed pending appeal.
According to Gibson, Swidan is a “a victim of a corrupt system” and his conviction was based on “false evidence.”
“The United States government has demanded his release, and we, as Americans, should stand up for this man who represents the best of us,” Gibson says in the video. “I ask for all of you to raise your voices and demand Mark’s release, and to pray that he’s returned to his family.”
Swidan’s family, which has been campaigning for his release for years, released a statement noting that they appreciate the actor lending his voice to the call for Swidan’s release.
Gibson’s message comes weeks after the U.S. State Department revealed that China decided to uphold Swindan’s death penalty with a two-year suspended death sentence.
In a statement, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel expressed disappointment
with China’s decision.
Today the People’s Republic of China’s Jiangmen Intermediate Court denied wrongfully detained US national Mark Swidan’s appeal and upheld his death penalty with a two-year suspended death sentence. We are disappointed by this decision and will continue to press for his immediate release and return to the United States.