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Eight US protesters deported from China

Latest update : 2008-08-25

Eight Americans, arrested for demonstrating over Tibet during the Olympics, have been deported from China as the country celebrated the end of the 2008 Olympics with a monumental show in Beijing.

 
 

China has deported eight Americans who were detained in Beijing last week after a wave of pro-Tibet protests coinciding with the Olympics, the US embassy here said Monday.

"Chinese authorities informed us last night that the eight individuals, detained August 20 and 21 respectively, were deported by Chinese authorities," a US embassy spokeswoman told AFP.

The eight left China while the Olympic closing ceremony was taking place, and before they had completed 10-day sentences they received last week, triggering high-level US pressure for their release.

The spokeswoman said they were flown out Sunday night via Air China to Los Angeles.

"We urge China to take positive steps to address international and domestic concerns about its record on human rights and religious freedoms," she said.

In addition to the eight Americans, a Briton and a Tibetan-German were also detained last week.

The Briton, 41-year-old Mandy McKeown, would be released Monday, the British government said earlier.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown used a visit to Beijing for the Olympics closing ceremony to intervene personally to secure her release, an official from his Downing Street office said.

Activists group Students for a Free Tibet welcomed the news of the release of the eight Americans, but suggested China was motivated mainly by propaganda concerns.

"After two days of negative publicity over its extrajudicial detention of ten Tibet supporters, the Chinese government is seeking to suppress a story that would have cast a shadow over the closing ceremony of these Olympic Games," said Lhadon Tethong, the group's executive director.

Pro-Tibet campaigners carried out at least eight stunts and small-scale protests in Beijing in the run-up to the Olympics and during the Games, despite tight security.

The authorities expelled foreign activists within a day or two after the early protests, but this week they appeared to toughen their approach by announcing punishments of 10 days in detention.

Date created : 2008-08-25