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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Activists Expelled From China

HONG KONG -- Greenpeace anti-nuclear activists deported from China arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday, saying their brazen protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square was a success and promising to do it again.


"We do what we have to do and we will do it again or we will do it differently in the future as well," said Harald Zindler, the German activist who planned the brief Beijing protest.


Zindler and three other activists, Greenpeace executive director Thilo Bode from Germany, Canadian representative Ann Dingwall and U.S. West Coast office director Bill Keller, arrived in Hong Kong about 34 hours after being detained.


With them were Peter Braun of Germany and Duri Mayer of Switzerland, two photographers the group had hired and who were also detained.


Two others involved -- Penelope Komites, executive director of the French office of Greenpeace, and Sasha Knorre, executive director of the Russian office -- were earlier put aboard an Air France flight for Paris.


The activists managed to unfurl a bright yellow protest banner in Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing on Tuesday, demanding China halt its nuclear testing program. Within seconds, police ripped the banner down and detained them.


"Because we signed confessions saying this was our first action in China, they said they would not charge us but would immediately send us out of the country," Komites said of the Chinese authorities. "We had to confess that we held an illegal protest."


The protest was timed to coincide with Beijing's rumored plans to hold a nuclear test in the next seven days and its announcement of missile tests off the east coast near Taiwan, which reportedly began Tuesday.


Greenpeace activists fear nuclear testing by China and France could undermine moves toward a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


The activists' expulsion was likely to defuse a potentially embarrassing incident just weeks before Beijing hosts its biggest international gathering -- the UN World Conference on Women -- but also reinforced Beijing's firm stance against dissent.