Friday, 15 November, 2019


USA couple detained in China, conflict between two countries may increase

Alyssa Petersen Alyssa Petersen
Bennie Garza | 20 October, 2019, 18:27

China said on Thursday that two United States citizens were placed under criminal detention by the end of September has been released on bail and awaiting trial on charges of illegally moving people across borders.

Alyssa Petersen and Jacob Harlan, who works for the US-based education company China Horizons, was detained in eastern China last month and have been in contact with U.S. officials, said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"Compulsory measures of criminal detention and release on bail were taken against" the two USA nationals, he said.

Harlan is the owner of China Horizons, an English language program that offers a "cultural experience for American students who teach English in Chinese schools", according to the company's Facebook page.

According to the GoFundMe pages, set up by family friend Sarah Jackson, on October 10 and 11, police took Harlan and his 8-year-old daughter, Viara, from the hotel where they were staying in Weifang City of Shandong Province on September 28.

China Horizons said on Facebook that "their families are working on getting them worldwide lawyers to help them get back home to the States".

Harlan's site says he is a father of five from Utah who was taken from his hotel room on the morning of September 28, along with his 8-year-old daughter, Viara.

They took Harlan's phone and computer and he was not allowed to contact his wife at home in Utah with their four other children for 48 hours, the post says.

The family then contacted the State Department for help in locating her.

"Because of increasing political and economic problems between the USA and China, we are no longer able to send teachers to China safely", the post stated.

"We received information that she is doing okay", the GoFundMe page said. "She spends her day in a Jail Cell or walking in a circle counting steps", the gofundme.com page says. The US State Department said that visas have been banned for Chinese officials and leaders responsible for keeping Uygar Muslims in surveillance camps.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing confirmed that it's aware of the detentions and the charges brought against the two but gave no further details. Last year, a US missionary, the Rev. John Sanqiang Cao, was sentenced to seven years in prison on the same charge. "If you are going to do business there you had better know what the laws are and you had better follow them, because China is not going to let anyone slide, especially not an American or a Canadian".

The Chinese government spokesman said Beijing has informed the US consulate in Shanghai and USA diplomats in China have been allowed access to Harlan and Petersen.

"I do not see this incident as having any specific links to current China-US relations", Geng said at a regular press conference.

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