Despite having a conviction for murder overturned, former HK resident has yet to be reunited with family and friends For former Hong Kong resident David Wong Kin-jin, who has spent the past 17 years behind bars in the United States, Christmas was bitter-sweet. Although his wrongful conviction for a 1986 jailhouse stabbing has been overturned, and charges dropped, Wong was still unable to spend the holidays in freedom with his family and friends. After years of appealing for a retrial, Wong's case had become a cause celebre for Asian-American activists, who saw him as a victim of courtroom injustice and racial profiling. On December 21, a judge dismissed a second degree murder charge on the grounds that a retrial 'would likely result in an acquittal' after key witnesses recanted their testimonies. On the verge of freedom, the Fujian native and illegal immigrant wrote from Clinton county jail in Plattsburgh, upstate New York, about his feelings of loss and hope, and his potential deportation to the mainland or Hong Kong. 'I really regret that I couldn't see my father before he passed away three years ago and apologise for disappointing him,' he said. 'I always had faith that the truth would be told one day. But my biggest worry was whether there would be an impartial judge to handle my case, especially when I was up against a corrupt, racist, judicial system on foreign soil,' said Wong, referring to opposition by a judge and district attorney to his appeal for a retrial. Wong's American dream was shattered when he was convicted of robbing the owner of a Chinese restaurant on Long Island in 1984. Since then, the 42-year-old has been held in more than seven US prisons. 'I was stupid to commit a reckless crime [the restaurant robbery] when I was young, but I did not deserve to be a scapegoat for a murder,' he said. Wong has never lost touch with the outside world. Letters from community supporters kept pouring in and American civil rights activists such as Yuri Kochiyama, who founded the David Wong Support Committee in 1990, have supported him. Legal heavyweights such as Jaykumar Menon of the Centre for Constitutional Rights and Professor William Hellerstein of Brooklyn Law School also volunteered to be his lawyers. Unable to speak English at the time, Wong believed he was wrongfully accused because he was one of only two Asians at Clinton County Correctional Facility when the 1986 murder of inmate Tyrone Julius took place. During the trial, his public defender refused to investigate the case even though there was a lack of physical evidence - the murder weapon was never found - or motive. Wong was also unable to articulate his defence in court since he was not provided with a translator. Wong fought relentlessly for justice, mastering English and acquiring knowledge of the American legal system. 'I never lost hope, the support and encouragement from the Asian-American community and strangers made me persevere - they are like my extended family,' he said. In a prison cell, Wong spent his days reading religious books, meditating and reciting Buddhist mantras. 'I'm no longer angry, I can't blame other people for my sufferings,' he said. As his case came to an end, he called for an explanation and an investigation into his wrongful conviction. Wong said the first things he wanted to do on his release was to 'cook a nice meal, take a long bath and sleep on a comfy bed'. He hoped to become a paralegal and be involved in community work. As he awaited the decision on his deportation, Wong said he hoped to remain in the US. 'I don't know anybody in China now, apart from my mother and sister who are still living in Hong Kong. It will be better if I can stay in the States - where I lived for the past decades and where my friends are,' he said.