Foreign tourists held in China were watching film on Genghis Khan: report

18 Jul 2015


Nine foreign tourists detained by Chinese authorities last week over alleged terror links were merely viewing a documentary on the ancient Mongolian conqueror Genghis Khan, a spokesman for two of the travelers said.

Chinese authorities arrested nine travelers for watching propaganda videos of terrorists in addition to the 11 held earlier for alleged wrongdoing.

The nine, including five South Africans, three Britons and one Indian national, were deported to their home countries within days.

Reports quoting South African and British diplomats and relatives of the tourists say none of the nine were charged with any wrongdoing.

A statement released by a British-based spokesman for two of the group, Hoosain Jacobs and Tahira Jacobs - who hold dual UK and South African nationality but travelled with South African passports - claims all the tourists have been released without charge.

China's foreign ministry said earlier this week that 20 foreign nationals were detained over ''suspicion of criminal wrongdoing'' last week in the northern city of Ordos. They were in China on a 47-day private tour of ancient sites across the country, according to relatives of some of the travelers.

Eleven members of the tour group - six Britons and five South Africans - were released and deported earlier this week. But local public-security officials held nine of the visitors under criminal detention pending further investigation.

A government official in Ordos, which is in China's Inner Mongolia region, said earlier this week that the nine travellers were held for watching terror-group propaganda videos, but he didn't give details.

The tourists, however, say they were likely arrested ''because of an unfortunate misunderstanding.''

The nine travelers ''watched a BBC documentary on Genghis Khan to further their understanding of the region they were in at the time, and this may have mistakenly been deemed as 'propaganda' material,'' the spokesman said in an emailed statement. He said the tour group had visited the Genghis Khan Mausoleum in Ordos a day before the arrests.

The two tourists with dual citizenships - Jacobs, 74, and his wife, 68 - are uncle and aunt to Shameel Joosub, chief executive of Vodacom Group, the South African arm of UK telecommunications giant Vodafone Group PLC.

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