Cheers as Olympics Tibet protesters return home

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The Independent Online

Two campaigners arrested in China after staging a Free Tibet protest outside the country's showpiece Olympic Stadium were greeted by a chorus of cheers as they landed in Britain today.

Lucy Fairbrother, 23, and Iain Thom, 24, who unfurled a 140-square-foot banner reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet" during their protest, landed at London City Airport to be met by a posse of supporters, media members and family.

The pair who were ordered home after Mr Thom scaled a 120ft pylon with American Phil Bartell, boarded a flight back from Beijing via Frankfurt, Germany, last night.

Miss Fairbrother's mother, Linda, 58, a London-based broadcast journalist, waited for the pair at the airport flanked by campaign group Students for a Free Tibet (SFT).

Before greeting the pair, she said: "I cannot wait to put my arms around here and tell her I love her and I'm so proud of her.

"My worst fear was that Chinese authorities would make an example of her."

As they walked through arrivals the pair were embraced by supporters and their family before a Tibetan, named as only as Norbu, placed two traditional headscarves around their necks.

Reflecting on their ordeal, the pair insisted they had been treated well after being arrested - but claimed there would be more protests.

London-based Miss Fairbrother said: "We are only a very small part of this campaign and the ongoing struggle.

"We will carry on fighting and there will be more protests during the Olympic Games."

Mr Thom, from Edinburgh, said he managed to scale the pylon because climbing was his long-term hobby.

He said: "It was not difficult to get through the security as we had been planning this for four years.

"We were treated well - there was some tough questioning after our arrests but nothing in respect of the way Chinese citizens would have been treated."