August 25, 2008

American, British Activists Deported From China – Kyodo

Text of report in English by Japan's largest news agency Kyodo

Beijing, Aug. 25 Kyodo - Eight Americans and a British national who were detained in China after holding pro-Tibet activities were sent home on Sunday and Monday, officials of the countries' embassies said.

The Americans were deported on a 9 p.m. flight on Sunday from Beijing to Los Angeles, after the US Embassy urged their immediate release, expressing disappointment that China has not demonstrated "greater tolerance and openness" during the Olympics.

"We urge China to take positive steps to address international and domestic concerns about its record on human rights and religious freedoms," a US Embassy spokeswoman said after the deportation.

Six of the eight were members of the group "Free Tibet Reporters," who were detained in the early hours of Wednesday. They included James Powderly, a high-tech artist who was planning a pro- Tibet laser exhibition in Beijing.

The two other Americans were detained on Thursday after hanging a "Free Tibet" banner near an Olympic venue.

A British Embassy spokesman said Mandie McKeown, who also took part in the demonstration near the National Stadium, was sent home in the early hours of Monday.

McKeown's deportation came after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had urged Chinese leaders to release the woman when he visited Beijing to attend Sunday's closing ceremony for the Olympic Games.

Several demonstrations have been held in the Chinese capital over the past month to coincide with the Olympics, including protests by foreign pro-Tibetan independence activists and a small group of Christian religious campaigners.

Protests in China have to be approved in advance by the local authorities and police, or they are deemed illegal. Officially sanctioned demonstrations are extremely rare.

Originally published by Kyodo News Service, Tokyo, in English 1129 25 Aug 08.

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