Olympics protester tells of interrogation ordeal

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The Independent Online

A British Free Tibet protester held by the Chinese authorities for three days without charge today said she was "elated" to be back in the country.

Mother-of-two Amanda 'Mandie' McKeown, 41, from Bristol, was arrested in Beijing on Thursday for taking photographs of three protesters as they unfurled a Free Tibet banner.

She arrived back at Heathrow Airport today to be greeted by a cheering crowd that included friends, family, Buddhist monks and members of campaign group Students for a Free Tibet.

She said: "We were arrested and taken to a university for questioning. We were held for nearly 24-hours without any sleep and having interrogation of up to about eight hours. Then we were moved to a detention centre and before we were allowed any sleep we had another 12 hours of interrogation."

Ms McKeown said she was not given any legal reason for her arrest.

"The guys I was with were given the reason that it was illegal to undertake even a peaceful protest and to talk about the situation in Tibet," she said.

She said that the last few protests seem to have shaken the Chinese government.

"They changed their tack over the last two days," she said. "They seemed to have decided to really clamp down on protesters."

Her husband Dan Cary, 42, a charity worker for disabled children, said he was filled with a "healthy anxiety" while his wife was away.

He said: "I'm very relieved that Mandie is home.

"She has an absolute commitment to the cause and even though I wouldn't like to say that China has listened, only time will tell if they have."

When asked how he felt about Gordon Brown's personal intervention in bringing Mandie home he said: "I am grateful that he made her case known, but I also think it was his duty."