Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Follow up: Girl rescued

Girl, previously reported kidnapped, is rescued by federal agents at JFK airport of New York City

February 12,2007

NEW YORK, NY -- The Falun Dafa Information Center disclosed Monday morning that 14-year-old Beijing native Youran Zhao has been successfully rescued, and is safe at this moment and unharmed, thanks to the tremendous efforts of U.S. homeland security officers and others. She is under the care and legal custody of her aunt and said to be recovering from the trauma. Zhao, as reported by [an earlier item in CSN news], had gone missing after declaring Saturday evening (around 5 PM) her intent to seek political asylum; she was on a tour of the northeastern U.S. with a group of students from China. She was said to be held against her will by Chinese tour leaders, acting on orders from China's notorious Public Security Bureau (PSB), sources had said. Harrowing events Sunday confirmed these allegations.

Federal authorities confirmed that Zhao, who practices Falun Gong, was missing from the tour group Sunday around noontime when several police apprehended tour chaperons on the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tour chaperons refused to disclose Zhao's whereabouts, only insisting "She's not here" and that "other chaperons" had taken her somewhere. Investigators have since learned that the tour leaders, acting on orders from China's communist regime to kidnap her back to Beijing, had hastened her off to JFK Airport around 7:30 AM Sunday, seeking to put her on the first available flight to China; Zhao's tour group, which remained in Boston on tour, was not scheduled to depart until February 13.

Sunday afternoon U.S. Customs officials at JFK Airport successfully identified Youran and the two Chinese chaperons who were attempting to smuggle Zhao out of America via Air China. The two chaperons and Zhao were held until her guardian and aunt, Ms. Xiufen Zhang of New Jersey, could arrive. Zhao and Zhang left under the protection of airport personnel after witnesses identified men believed to be Chinese agents who had been following Zhao.

The Information Center wishes to express its gratitude to the many U.S. customs officials and police and others who assisted in this matter, and to call attention to the welfare of Zhao's family in Beijing, who have reportedly been threatened by PSB agents with jailing and banishment to China’s gulag system.

Information Center spokesperson Mr. Erping Zhang, who was at the airport and assisted in the investigation, said Monday: "That Beijing's communist rulers feel threatened by a harmless girl who seeks only protection from religious persecution in a free, democratic country is a sad, and disturbing, reminder of the state of human rights in China today. If these are the actions they brazenly take on U.S. soil -- resorting to kidnapping -- one shudders to think how they treat believers inside China. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Zhao's remaining family in China, and call on media and rights groups to carefully monitor their situation."
CSN has reposted this from FDI (the Falun Dafa Information Center).

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