Americans among foreign protesters deported from China

BEIJING -- China on Monday deported a British woman and a German man who took part in a protest during the Olympic Games, officials said, hours after eight American activists were sent home during the closing ceremony.

Mandie McKeown and Florien Norbu Gyanatshang were put on flights to Frankfurt in the morning, said officials from the British Embassy in Beijing and the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. No other details were given.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who attended Sunday's closing ceremony, had urged Chinese authorities to release the woman.

McKeown, 41, and Gyanatshang, 30, were part of a group of four who last week unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the National Stadium, one of the main Olympics venues. The group, which also included Americans Jeremy Wells and John Watterberg, was taken away by security agents.

Wells and Watterberg were among eight Americans who were sent home late Sunday, after the U.S. government expressed disappointment that the Olympics did not bring more "openness and tolerance" in China.

The U.S. criticism came at the end of 17 days of Olympic competition that generally went smoothly for Chinese organizers nervous about security and protests.

China's Foreign Ministry in a statement Monday said, "The protesters participated in 'Tibet independence' activities and that is against China's law."

The statement said China hoped "the relevant countries will teach their citizens to abide and respect China's laws."

No rallies were held throughout the entire Olympics in three parks designated as protest zones -- Chinese officials declined to issue permits to 77 applicants and detained some of them. A series of small illegal demonstrations -- largely staged by foreign activists -- were held near Olympic venues and at Beijing landmarks.

The foreigners mostly unveiled "Free Tibet" banners before being seized by security officials, hustled into cars and taken away to be put on flights out of China.

A handful of journalists trying to cover the protests were roughed up by authorities then released. There were also tensions with the media over China restricting access to the Internet.

Beijing had promised the media freedom to report the games and announced the protest parks in an effort to address criticism that China should not have been awarded the games because of its human rights record and tight controls on internal dissent.

In his wrap-up news conference Sunday, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the Games had helped to open up China.

But Rogge also said the IOC "found it unusual" that none of the applications lodged to hold protests during the Games succeeded.

He said IOC officials discussed with games organizers the case of two elderly Chinese women who were ordered to spend a year in a labor camp after applying to protest, though the women were still at home under surveillance. The IOC was told it was a matter of Chinese law.

In the first week of the Games, several foreign protesters were put on flights out of the country within days of being detained. But in the final week, at least 10 foreigners were ordered detained for 10 days under rules that allow officials to hold them without charge for up to 14 days.