Former Tiananmen student protest leader Xiong Yan was briefly detained at Hong Kong's border with China on Thursday before being put on a flight back to the United States, as authorities thwarted an attempt to visit his terminally ill mother, friends and supporters told RFA's Mandarin Service.
Xiong, 50, had flown to Hong Kong from Seattle and had planned to enter China by land from Hong Kong. The former British colony became a special zone of China in 1997 and retains its own customs and immigration system.
On Thursday evening, Xiong was taken away by authorities as he awaited clearance to enter China and held for questioning, his supporters said.
After his disappearance, Xiong's supporters and lawyers from the Hong Kong Alliance to Support Democracy in China requested access to him. They later received a call from Xiong at Hong Kong's airport saying he had been refused entry to Hong Kong and was to be put on a flight back to the United States immediately, his supporters told RFA.
Xiong, a U.S. citizen based in Texas, had recently sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and the Chinese consulate in Houston, to request a visa for travel to Hunan to visit his dying mother, but received no reply.
Xiong was a student at the Law School of Beijing University at the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and served a 19-month term in labor camp for his part in the protests. He fled China in 1992 to the United States, where he studied theology and joined the U.S. Army, later being posted as a chaplain to Iraq.
Reported by CK for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Paul Eckert.