Britons deported from China for watching video 'advocating terrorism' were watching BBC documentary about Genghis Khan

The film was thought to be "propaganda"

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The Independent Online

Nine Britons deported from China for watching videos ‘advocating terrorism’ have said they were watching a documentary about Genghis Khan.

Official state media said that the foreigners had watched an unspecified documentary in a hotel room and later some of them watched video clips which advocated terrorism. Police found similar clips on a mobile phone belonging to one of the foreigners.

The group was made up of 10 South Africans, nine Britons and one Indian. The report said the group were stopped on 10 July during a 47-day long tour. They were deported and British members of the group arrived back in the UK yesterday.

They are accused of watching material that advocates “terrorism and religious extremism”.

However, some of those who were deported say that they were in fact watching a BBC documentary about Genghis Khan.

The ancient warlord is credited with founding the Mongol Empire in the late twelfth and early 13th century.

Tahira Jacobs, 68, and her husband, Hoosain, 74, from West London, said: "Chinese officials arrested the group of 20 tourists on day 30 of the 47-day tour, a day after they visited the Genghis Khan Mausoleum at Ordos, Inner Mongolia. The arrest took place at the airport in Ordos on July 10, just before they were to board a plane to their next destination, namely Xian.

"The peace-loving group of people aged 33 to 74 believe only in love and the unity of the human spirit. [They] were on a private sightseeing tour in China to see the ancient and modern wonders, and learn and experience new cultures."

A spokesman said nobody in the group was charged after they were detained.

He said: "It is believed the reason they were arrested was because of an unfortunate misunderstanding.

"They watched a BBC documentary video 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.

"It can only be assumed that junior officials who made the initial arrest in Inner Mongolia made a mistake, due to perhaps their unfamiliarity of the English language. The Jacobs family wish to thank the senior Chinese authorities in Beijing for the swift manner in which they have resolved this unfortunate misunderstanding."

All of the people who were detained have now been released without charge.

With additional reporting by AP and PA