China detains 2 US citizens who ran teaching program

BEIJING (AP) — China says it has detained two U.S. citizens on suspicion of organizing others to illegally cross the border.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says police in the eastern province of Jiangsu arrested Alyssa Petersen and Jacob Harlan on Sept. 27 and Sept. 29.

Both were involved in an Idaho-based organization called China Horizons, whose website says it is an English teaching program that offers an "immersive experience within a Chinese school."

The crime of organizing others to illegally cross the border carries a minimum sentence of two years, with punishment as severe as life imprisonment under certain circumstances.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing confirmed that it's aware of the detentions but did not give further details.