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During her interrogation, Ye Wenjie confesses to at least the following:

Two murders, unauthorised use of a classified military installation, conspiracy with a foreign power in order to facilitate a military invasion.

This is in addition to the fact that she has been caught red-handed

presiding over an organization which has threatened to detonate a nuclear device in the nation's capital, and has just summarily executed one of its members in public.

It would seem that she would meet easily the threshold for a number of serious crimes. Yet her interrogator seems to see her rather sympathetically, as a naïve person misled by idealism. In addition, she is permitted to make a journey to the ruins of Red Coast Base, a request which is not straightforward to grant as it is in a remote mountainous region.

Why did the authorities treat her so leniently?

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  • I think you mean Ye Wenjie? Zhetai was her father. I thought it was the splinter group of Evans' supporters that had the bomb, not Wenjie. Also, the scenes before show that she was being interrogated, and it says that after everything was revealed, she became silent: "she rarely spoke, but did make one request: She wanted to visit the ruins of Red Coast Base" - there's nothing to indicate that it might not be a 'last' request as such, that she's being allowed to take...
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 21:33
  • @NKCampbell, you are correct it's We Yenjie. I have updated the title. Her visit to Red Coast Base does have the character of a last request, and it's strongly implied that she dies there or soon after. However, it seems odd that she would be allowed to make such a request: it's hard to imagine she would have been allowed to make a sentimental visit to the "scene of the crime" if she had been collaborating with, e.g. the CIA, whatever her motives might have been.
    – Batperson
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 23:04
  • The person with the nuclear device was one of Ye's personal bodyguards, it's likely her loyalty was towards Ye rather than Evans. In any case, would the Chinese authorities have made a distinction?
    – Batperson
    Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 23:16
  • It's possible that they felt that letting her going to the old Red Coast base would provoke further admissions from her. One hand washing the other, so to speak.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 18, 2021 at 3:20

1 Answer 1

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Yet her interrogator seems to see her rather sympathetically, as a naïve person misled by idealism.

I wouldn't characterize the interrogator as considering Ye to be a naive person. I think that they took her very seriously. You can see that they came prepared to question her thoroughly.

For example, during her interrogation, the following exchange happens:

INTERROGATOR: (a pause) [proceeds to give a smart question that shows some knowledge of the underlying physics being discussed]
YE: You're very clever.
INTERROGATOR: (points to his earpiece) I have the world's foremost scientists behind me.

They also knew Ye's history, as someone who was a methodical scientist at the top of her field, and as someone who was willing to endure pain and sacrifice to serve her mission. So I think that they decided to not press Ye hard during the interview because they knew that they would only get good information from her if it was being given willingly. And they knew that she had good reason to cooperate with then, given that

one of the goals of the interrogation was to prevent Mike Evans and his Adventist followers from being able to advance their plot to aiding in the destruction of the human race, something that went against the Redemptionist ethos of Ye

It was in their best interest to be cordial towards Ye. And it worked.

On a more pragmatic level, Ye was at this time a very old woman, and any more forceful interrogation technique (even if one might suppose that this would be successful) could very easily injure her to a degree where her life could be at risk.

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