BEIJING (AP) _ Chinese police have been holding an American woman in detention for five days since she took a picture at a protest by members of the banned Falun Gong meditation movement, her boyfriend said today.

Tracy Zhao, 30, of New York City, was taking a picture of police breaking up a Falun Gong protest around midnight Feb. 4 at Tiananmen Square when police detained her, said Lin Chong-li, who also is an American from New York.

He said she was not taking part in the protest but was there to observe it and show support.

She was among at least 50 Falun Gong followers detained at the protest, which was held as China welcomed the lunar new year. Police kicked, punched and dragged demonstrators before putting them in vans.

Lin said Zhao borrowed a mobile phone while in the van and called him twice early Saturday to say she was being taken north of Beijing to a detention center.

He said he has not heard from her since, although police have called asking about her luggage and plane ticket. Lin gave Zhao's passport to U.S. Embassy officials, who gave it to the Chinese police.

Zhao, who was born in Beijing, emigrated to the United States at age 20 and works as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines, Lin said.

The Chinese government banned Falun Gong in July as a menace to the public and a threat to Communist Party control.

Founded in 1992 by a former Chinese government clerk who now lives in New York, Falun Gong attracted millions of followers drawn to its mix of slow-motion exercises, Buddhist and Taoist ideas and message of moral living.