May 29, 2002

China's former consul-general in Los Angeles has been served with a lawsuit, accusing him of harassment and slander against the Falun Gong, a group banned in China.

The group, which operates in dozens of other countries, accuses Lan Lijun of conducting a campaign to discredit them in the United States. Falun Gong describes itself as a spiritual meditation and exercise group.

Mr. Lan, assigned to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, was served the legal papers at a local restaurant, Falun Gong said yesterday in a statement.

Last month more than 50 members of the group filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, charging the embassy and its consulates with "engaging in a pattern of criminal acts and interfering with their right to practice their spiritual beliefs," said Terri Wu, a Falun Gong member in Washington.

The embassy did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Mr. Lan, when he was consul-general, sent letters to California officials, urging them to ignore local chapters of the Falun Gong.