China sentences 10 foreign protesters

Chinese police have sentenced at least 10 foreigners to 10 days of detention for protesting during the Olympic Games, an activist group and officials said.

The most recent detainees included four protesters who were demonstrating against Chinese rule in Tibet, said the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet. The protesters - a German, two Americans and a British citizen - were seized Thursday while unfurling a Tibetan flag near the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium.

Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the detention of the British protester and issued a statement saying, "We continue to underline to the Chinese government the need to respect its commitment to freedom of expression." The statement also urged British citizens to respect China's laws.

China said it would allow protests during the Olympic Games only in three designated areas. Protesters also were also required to apply for permission to protest, but no application to demonstrate has been approved.

The Public Security Bureau did not immediately respond to requests Saturday for comment about the detained foreigners' cases.

The bureau issued a statement Thursday that said a separate group of six foreigners who were arrested Tuesday were ordered to serve 10 days of detention. Police did not identify the detainees, but Students for a Free Tibet said they were bloggers, artists and activists from the United States.

Separately, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said AIDs activist Wang Xiaoqiao, who has been detained for nine months, has been convicted and sentenced to one year in prison in the central province of Henan. The organisation accused the government of waiting until the Olympics, when the world was distracted by the games, to sentence Wang.

Wang was convicted of extortion Aug. 12 in Xincai county in a case that involved a kiln that she claimed polluted her family's farm land, the overseas-based group said. Wang was detained shortly after she reached a settlement with the kiln owner, it said.

The rights group said Wang was actually being punished for petitioning officials for compensation for AIDs patients. Wang's husband contracted the disease from a tainted blood transfusion, the group said.


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