Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

Two American English teachers detained in China for "organizing illegal border crossings"

Jacob Harlan Jacob Harlan the founder of China Horizons and his family
Patty Aguilar | 20 October, 2019, 18:26

A US State Department official said, "We are aware of the news of two US citizens being detained".

According to foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, cited by Shine, Alyssa Peterson and Jacob Harlan, who worked for an US-based education company called China Horizons, were placed under criminal detention in late September and have been communicating with U.S. officials.

The charge of organizing others to illegally cross the border carries a minimum sentence of two years, with punishment as severe as life imprisonment under certain circumstances.

Harlan is the owner of China Horizons, an English language program that offers a "cultural experience for American students who teach English in Chinese schools", according to the company's Facebook page.

China Horizons said on Facebook that "their families are working on getting them global lawyers to help them get back home to the States".

According to the GoFundMe pages, set up by family friend Sarah Jackson, on October 10 and 11, police took Harlan and his 8-year-old daughter, Viara, from the hotel where they were staying in Weifang City of Shandong Province on September 28.

Police detained him while he was with his eight-year-old daughter at a hotel in Weifang, Shandong province, on September 28 and took away his phone and computer, according to the post.

It said Viara Harlan was allowed to make a brief call to her mother in Utah after 48 hours, but not permitted to disclose her location or say anything about what had happened.

The family then contacted the State Department for help in locating her.

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"We are no longer able to send teachers to China safely", China Horizons said.

'We received information that she is doing okay, She wakes up when told, she goes to sleep when told. "She spends her day in a jail cell or walking in a circle counting steps", the site said.

The State Department official confirmed that Petersen is receiving 'all appropriate consular services'. She can't have contact with anyone "outside of a Consulate Officer who can visit once a month and a Lawyer", it said.

An American couple involved in the business of teaching English in China has been detained amidst business tensions in China and the US.

The police in Zhenjiang did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Thursday.

Jacob Harlan, left, and Alyssa Petersen, of the USA -based educational organization China Horizons, have been arrested in China.

Last March, the charge was used to sentence Reverend John Sanqiang Cao, a USA permanent resident based in North Carolina, to seven years in prison.

Geng, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, said at the press conference that he doesn't "see any connection between this case and the current China-U.S. relations".

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