WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secretary of State John Kerry is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of five Chinese activists detained before International Women's Day in March.
Kerry said in a statement Friday that the women had organized a peaceful campaign to help end sexual harassment and promote equal rights for women.
He says Chinese authorities should support such activists, "not silence them."
To date, China's Foreign Ministry has rejected international calls for the release of the five women, describing it as interference in the nation's judicial sovereignty.
The five have been held in a Beijing detention center, accused of creating a disturbance. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.