China says Australian detainee is free

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Jan. 30, 2003

Foreign affairs officials say an Australian member of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement detained by Chinese authorities has been released and is due to arrive in Australia later today.

Nancy Chen, 34, went missing last week while visiting her parents in Chengdu city in Sichuan province, south-west China.

Falun Gong activists say she was arrested by members of China’s National Security Bureau.

A foreign affairs spokeswoman says Ms Chen was freed after two Australian diplomats flew from Beijing to south-west China on Wednesday seeking access to her.

“We have confirmation that she is expected to arrive in Australia today,” the official said.

The spokeswoman said she had no information about why Ms Chen had been detained but pointed out that the Australian Government maintains a longstanding warning to its nationals that Falun Gong members visiting China could face legal action, including detention.

Falun Gong has been branded an “evil cult” in China, where authorities regard it as the biggest threat to social stability since the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests.

The group has millions of followers in mainland China, tens of thousands of whom have been jailed since it was outlawed in 1999.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday January 30, 2003.
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