Author of high-profile Chinese labor camp letter speaks out

Author of high-profile Chinese labor camp letter speaks out
A photograph of the letter.

It was an alarming letter that an Oregon woman found tucked inside a box of Halloween decorations.

Handwritten in broken English, the letter detailed the brutal conditions at a Chinese labor camp.

"Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization," said the note, tucked in the box of decorations Julie Keith purchased at a Kmart store. "Thousands people here who are under the persicution (sic) of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank you and remember you forever.

Keith of Damascus, Ore., shared the note with KATU News in an interview last December, and the story later garnered international media attention.

Now, the man who wrote the letter has given an exclusive interview to The New York Times. In the Tuesday article, the man -- a Beijing resident -- said he authored 20 such letters over the course of two years.

The man, who only went by his surname, Zhang, for fear of retribution, said he snuck the notes inside products that appeared bound for the United States.

"For a long time I would fantasize about some of the letters being discovered overseas, but over time I just gave up hope and forgot about them," Zhang told The Times.

Zhang was released in 2010 from the Masanjia forced labor camp in Shenyang, China.

He said while at the camp, he was barred from having pens and paper, so he stole a set from a desk one day while cleaning a prison office and that's how he wrote his letters.