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China deports tourists for watching ‘terrorism’ videos

China has deported a group 20 foreign tourists from Britain,
South Africa and India for watching video clips that
allegedly advocated terrorism and religious extremism, the
official state media reported.

At least two of the tourists, however, said they were actually
just watching a documentary about the 13th century
Mongol leader Genghis Khan.

Xinhua news agency said late on Saturday that the
foreigners watched an unspecified documentary in a hotel
room and later some of them watched video clips that
advocated terrorism in the border region of Inner Mongolia.
The foreigners said it was a misunderstanding.

The news agency cited the foreign affairs office of Ordos
city, where police had stopped the 10 South Africans, 9
Britons and one Indian on July 10 as they were going to fly
to Xi’an, home of the ancient terracotta warriors sculptures
and their next stop on a 47-day tour of the country.

Britain’s Press Association reported that the documentary
was a BBC production on Genghis Khan, citing a statement
from two of the British tourists, husband and wife Hoosain
and Tahira Jacobs. They said that the video “may have
mistakenly been deemed as propaganda material”.

“It can only be assumed that junior officials who made the
initial arrest in Inner Mongolia made a mistake, due to
perhaps their unfamiliarity of the English language,” the
statement said.

The Jacobs also said that the group was a mixture of
Muslims, Christians and Hindus who had travelled together
in the past, including to Israel and the United States. They
had visited the Genghis Khan Mausoleum in Ordos the day
before they were stopped at the airport.
Xinhua said that the foreigners were criminally detained on
July 11 in connection with a law that “stipulates punishment
for allegedly organising, leading or joining terrorist groups”.

It said the nine “admitted to their legal acts and repented,”
without elaborating. It said police treated the case leniently
and deported them on Saturday.

The other 11 were deported on Wednesday.
Calls to the foreign affairs office in Ordos by the AP news
agency rang unanswered Sunday. A man on duty at Ordos
police, who only identified his surname, Han, said he had no
information on the case.

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