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China deports five pro-Tibet Canadian activists

August 13, 2008 News (Canada)
August 11 2008

After video captured him being tackled for unfurling a Tibetan Flag
near China's Tiananmen Square, an Edmonton man says Chinese officials
used his own credit card to send him home.

"It was pretty clear I wasn't authorizing it," Steve Andersen told
The Canadian Press.

Andersen, 28, arrived back in Edmonton Monday evening after being
arrested, questioned and then deported from China over the weekend.

"I'm glad to be back in Canada," he said from the Edmonton airport.
"(But) I'm a little worried for the people who are back in Tibet
under Chinese rule."

Andersen, a member of Students for a Free Tibet, was arrested by
undercover officers along with a Tibetan-German woman.

"It really highlights what the Chinese authorities are willing to do
to silence people," he said.

After those arrests, another five Canadians were detained and
deported, including four from Edmonton.

One of them was well-known local Greenpeace spokesperson, Mike
Hudema. He says officers searched their apartment before deporting
them back to Canada.

He also said that the group had a Tibetan flag but had not yet
participated in any protest.

"We were followed relentlessly by several undercover police
officers," he told CTV Edmonton.

Wenran Jiang, a University of Alberta expert on Chinese politics,
said the Canadian activists picked the wrong time to spread their
pro-Tibet message in China.

"Some of the measures I think are a bit excessive but probably some
it is understandable - the nervousness of the authorities, they don't
know what's going to happen," he told CTV Edmonton.

Andersen doesn't plan on going back to China but defends his actions there.

"I hope one day I'll be able to visit a free Tibet," he said.

The five Canadians who were detained before being deported have been
identified as Hudema, 32, Jasmine Freed, 28, Paul Christopher Baker,
29, Denise Ogonoski, 26, and William Nelson 32.

Baker was flying to Halifax after being deported.

It is believed that Students for a Free Tibet will pick up the cost
of an early flight home for its members.

With a report from CTV Edmonton's Bill Fortier and files from The
Canadian Press
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