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China Holds Falun Gong Follower

September 30, 2002

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BEIJING (AP) _ A follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement has been arrested in eastern China on suspicion of planning to hijack cable television broadcasts to show videos protesting Beijing’s ban on the group, police and television officials said Monday.

Bank clerk Song Tao was detained on July 19 in Yantai, a city in Shandong province, said Cai Xian, an engineer with the Yantai Television Broadcast Administration.

A spokesman for the Yantai police, who gave only his surname, Jiang, said a Falun Gong follower had been arrested in July on suspicion of planning illicit broadcasts in Yantai and other Shandong cities. He declined to identify the suspect by name.

Neither would say what evidence had been found implicating Song.

Over the last six months, Falun Gong sympathizers have repeatedly broken into local television systems to show videos protesting Beijing’s 3-year-old crackdown on the spiritual movement.

Beijing claims the group has also hijacked satellite transmissions using equipment based in Taiwan. Falun Gong is legal and practiced openly in Taiwan and dozens of other countries.

Earlier this month, 15 people convicted of breaking into a cable television system to show Falun Gong videos in two northeastern cities in March were sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

China calls Falun Gong an evil cult and has detained thousands of followers. Falun Gong activists abroad say hundreds of supporters have died from abuse in detention.

Update hourly