Academic Li Shaomin has had almost $48,000 deducted from his salary by City University for the time he spent in detention on the mainland accused of spying for Taiwan earlier this year. His wife Liu Yingli, who works at the same university, had $9,210 taken out of her pay for the time she took off to lobby for his release, Dr Li told the South China Morning Post yesterday. Dr Li criticised the university's senior management for being 'extremely mean' and 'lacking human compassion' by instructing the human resources office to deduct the money from his salary. It was deducted in two installments in August and September. Dr Li, 45, said the university's department of marketing had recommended postponing a decision on his contract renewal from last month to next November. Dr Li's two-year contract was due to expire in June next year and it has been recommended that it be extended for one year from then. Dr Li, a US citizen, was arrested in Shenzhen on February 25. He was expelled from the mainland to the United States after being convicted by a Beijing court in July of spying for Taiwan. That hearing was held behind closed doors and no details of it or the charges on which Dr Li was found guilty have been released by the authorities. The academic, who denies the accusations of spying, was allowed back into Hong Kong on July 30. The university council decided five days later to let him keep his job as assistant professor, which pays more than $80,000 a month. In an interview with the Post, Dr Li said department head Dr Joe Zhou Nan had told him last month that the department's staffing committee had recommended his contract renewal decision be postponed for one year to next November. 'Dr Zhou said that decision was due to the fact that I have been detained on the mainland for five months and several more months were needed for recovery after my return,' Dr Li said. 'Dr Zhou said it was more appropriate to extend the contract for a year [from next June] to reach a fair and comprehensive assessment for the contract renewal.' Dr Li, who joined the university in 1996, said the faculty of business would consider the department's recommendation for the extension and he expected he would be told the results by next month. In an appraisal report on Dr Li's performance between July last year and June this year, Dr Zhou rated Dr Li's overall performance as 'outstanding/good'. He wrote in the report: 'I'm glad you've come back safely. Keep up your outstanding work.' Dr Li said the university's human resources office had deducted $47,839 from his salary to pay for excess holidays taken during his detention between February and July. The university admitted in July it would classify his time in detention as leave, but said at the time it would deal with Dr Li in a 'caring and flexible' way and did not mention the possibility of deducting money from his salary. Dr Li said: 'Acting director of human resources Ellen Ko told me in August that I had used up all my holidays for this and next year. But this was not enough to cover the days overdue, so they would deduct the money.' He said his wife had had $9,210 deducted from her pay for the overdue holidays she spent in Washington with their nine-year-old daughter campaigning for his release. Academic staff members have 46 days' leave a year. Dr Li said: 'Ms Ko said I should have informed the university seven days before making trips outside Hong Kong. Hundreds of academic staff visit Shenzhen and other mainland cities every weekend. Have they all lodged prior applications? I was angry that after I was detained on the mainland for five months, the university came to find fault with me,' he said. Dr Li said the human resources office had asked him to sign a letter agreeing to the deduction. 'I refused to do so but they said they would go ahead even without my consent.' University vice-president Professor Wong Yuk-shan said the university considered Dr Li had taken advance unpaid leave during his detention and his family had agreed to the arrangement. 'As a public institution, we just followed the established rules in handling Dr Li's case,' he said. Dr Li said the university had the right to deduct his salary but it could have shown humanitarian concern for his unique situation.