China Sentences 10 Foreign Protesters

A plain clothed security official, bottom right, grabs a Tibetan flag from three pro-Tibet activists as they gesture in protest opposite the National Stadium, where the Olympic athletics competition had just finished, Beijing, early Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. Swarms of plainclothes police took away four foreign activists protesting Chinese rule over Tibet - the latest in a series of such demonstrations during the Olympics. (AP Photo)
AP Photo
Chinese police have sentenced at least 10 foreigners to 10 days of detention for protesting during the Olympic Games, an activist group and officials said Saturday.

The most recent detainees included four protesters who were demonstrating against Chinese rule in Tibet, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said. The protesters - a German, two Americans and a British citizen - were seized Thursday while unfurling a Tibetan flag near the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium. Other Americans have reportedly been arrested for protesting during the Olympics as well.

The U.S. Ambassador to China is pressing Chinese officials to immediately release eight Americans who were detained for protesting.

Ambassador Clark T. Randt Jr. says in a statement Sunday that Beijing should demonstrate respect for human rights and free speech

He says U.S. officials are "disappointed that China has not used the occasion of the Olympics to demonstrate greater tolerance and openness."

Randt says consular officials had met with eight Americans who were detained last week by Chinese authorities.

Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the detention of the British protester and issued a statement urging the Chinese government "to respect its commitment to freedom of expression." It also urged British citizens to respect China's laws.

China said it would allow protests during the Olympic Games in three designated areas and required protesters to apply for protest permits. However, no applications to demonstrate have been approved.

The Public Security Bureau did not immediately respond to requests Saturday for comment about the detained foreigners' cases.

The bureau issued a statement Thursday that said a separate group of six foreigners who were arrested Tuesday were ordered to serve 10 days of detention. Police did not identify the detainees, but Students for a Free Tibet said they were bloggers, artists and activists from the United States.

Separately, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said AIDS activist Wang Xiaoqiao, who has been detained for nine months, has been convicted and sentenced to one year in prison in Xincai, a county in the central province of Henan. The organization accused the government of waiting until the Olympics, when the world was distracted by the games, to sentence Wang.

Phone calls to the Xincai county court and to the news office of the county's public security bureau rang unanswered Sunday.