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British, German activists deported from China

British, German activists deported from China

China deported Monday a British woman and a German man who took part in a protest during the Olympic Games, officials said, hours after eight American activists were sent home during the closing ceremony.
Mandie McKeown and Florien Norbu Gyanatshang were put on flights to Frankfurt in the morning, said officials from the British Embassy in Beijing and the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. No other details were given.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who attended Sunday's closing ceremony, had urged Chinese authorities to release the woman.
McKeown, 41, and Gyanatshang, 30, were part of a group of four who last week unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the National Stadium, one of the main Olympics venues. The group, which also included Americans Jeremy Wells and John Watterberg, was taken away by security agents.
Wells and Watterberg were among eight Americans who were sent home late Sunday, after Washington expressed disappointment that the Olympics did not bring more "openness and tolerance" in China.
The blunt U.S. criticism came at the end of 17 days of Olympic competition that generally went smoothly for Chinese organizers who had been nervous about security and protests.
China's Foreign Ministry in a statement Monday said, "The protesters participated in 'Tibet independence' activities and that is against China's law."
The statement said China hoped "the relevant countries will teach their citizens to abide and respect China's laws."
No rallies were held throughout the entire Olympics in three parks designated as protest zones after Chinese officials declined to issue permits to 77 applicants, and detained some of them. But mostly foreign activists staged a series of small illegal demonstrations near Olympic venues and at Beijing landmarks.
The foreigners mostly unveiled "Free Tibet" banners before being seized by security officials, hustled into cars and taken away to be put on flights out of China.
A handful of journalists trying to cover the protests were roughed up by authorities then released. There were also tensions with the media over China restricting access to the Internet.
Beijing had promised the media freedom to report the games and announced the protest parks in an effort to address criticism that China should not have been awarded the games because of its human rights record and tight controls on internal dissent.
The White House said in a statement that eight individuals _ James Powderly, Brian Conley, Jeffrey Rae, Jeff Goldin, Michael Liss, Tom Grant, Wells and Watterberg _ were deported by Chinese authorities at 9 p.m. Sunday on a China Air flight to Los Angeles.
Ambassador Clark T. Randt Jr. had pressed the Chinese government Saturday to immediately release the eight.
"We encourage the government of China to demonstrate respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, of all people during the Olympic Games and beyond," a U.S. Embassy statement said Sunday.
"We are disappointed that China has not used the occasion of the Olympics to demonstrate greater tolerance and openness," it said.
In his wrap up news conference Sunday, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the games had helped to open up China.
But Rogge also said the IOC "found it unusual" that none of applications lodged to hold protests during the games succeeded.
He said IOC officials discussed with games organizers the case of two elderly Chinese women who were ordered to spend a year in a labor camp after applying to protest, though the women were still at home under surveillance. The IOC was told it was a matter of Chinese law.
Several members of another group that sought permission to protest about corruption during the games were detained in a room for 48 hours by Chinese authorities before being deported home to Hong Kong, group spokesman Xiao Yuzhen said.
During the games, Beijing organizers were consistently pressed by journalists about people's right to dissent but they routinely deferred comment by trying to focus on sports rather than politics.
In the first week of the games, several foreign protesters were put on flights out the country within days of being detained. But in the final week, at least 10 foreigners were ordered detained for 10 days under rules that allow officials to hold them without charge for up to 14 days.
Meanwhile, a U.S. preacher who had waged an unusual protest to demand the release of five Chinese activists attempted to turn himself in to Chinese authorities on Sunday, according to his Web site. Pastor Eddie Romero had been in hiding since early August after painting the walls of upscale hotels in Beijing with calls for the activists' release.
A cell phone recording of his attempt to turn himself in was posted on his Web site. The recording had him screaming: "God said, 'Let my people go.'"
Tony Thomas, a pastor who is a friend of Romero's, said he heard Romero questioning some men whether they were police and whether they were at a police station. They answered no and the call went dead soon after.
Telephones at the Beijing Public Security bureau were not answered Monday.
Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said consular officers are working with Chinese authorities to confirm Romero's status and welfare.
"While we do not condone Mr. Romero's method, the U.S. government supports his underlying message that calls for greater freedoms in China," she said in an e-mail.