WASHINGTON — By any standard, the past 18 months have been remarkable for getting wrongfully detained Americans home. There were major swaps with adversaries like Iran and Russia, including one that secured the freedom of WNBA star Brittney Griner, and a large prisoner exchange just last month with Venezuela.
But Harrison Li has had little to celebrate. Despite the succession of high-profile releases, jubilant family reunions and triumphant photos on government airplanes, his father, Kai, remains detained in China on espionage-related charges his family says are bogus and politically motivated.
Li, a Stanford University doctoral student, says though he feels “so much joy and happiness” for the other families — many of whom he's become friendly with over the years — “I'd be lying if I didn't say that then the next thought is, you know, when's it our turn?”
He added, “When you see so many folks come home but then you still see your loved one not, then, yeah, there's definitely an element of frustration.”
Li is not alone. For all the releases of wrongly detained Americans, many more remain either locked up or missing in countries including Russia, Syria and Afghanistan — often held by a hostile foreign government. In some instances, there have been few signs of progress, and families have sometimes seen the countries that are holding their loved ones release other detainees but not yet their…