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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Falun Gong Follower Expelled

A member of the Falun Gong spiritual group who was living in St. Petersburg has been deported to China, where he could face torture and death, followers of the movement said Wednesday.

The group, which is banned in China, said migration service officers detained Gao Chunman, a former professor of biotechnology at China's elite Qinghua University, in his St. Petersburg apartment.

"His deportation to China could end in a long prison term, torture and possible death," the group said in a statement.

Ivan Shkodyuk, chairman of the group's Moscow branch, said the officers "carried Gao onto the street, put him into a car and drove off."

Gao's wife was told on May 13 that he was to be deported on the earliest flight, Shkodyuk added.

China has classified Falun Gong as a cult and banned it in 1999.

Gao, a follower of Falun Gong since 1994, fled China in 2000 for St. Petersburg, where he studied in his youth. He was refused refugee status several times. He was born in 1934 and his wife is Russian.

The Federal Migration Service could not be reached for immediate comment. In March, Russia deported a Chinese woman who was a follower of the movement and her 8-year-old daughter.