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China Britons arrests: six to be deported, three still held

Six Britons who were arrested in northern China are being deported, while another three remain in custody, the Foreign Office has said.

Chinese authorities have not yet offered an official explanation for the detentions, which also include t wo dual British-South African nationals.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "Consular staff have visited the group to provide assistance and we have requested an explanation from the Chinese authorities about the reasons for detaining these individuals."

South-African based charity Gift of the Givers said the tourists - including nine Britons, 10 South Africans and one Indian national - were supposed to be exploring ancient China during a planned 47-day trip.

But the tour went "horribly wrong" on Friday when they were arrested at Ordos Airport, Inner Mongolia, at 9.40am local time, it added.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the charity said: "No reasons were given for the arrest. Cellphones were confiscated, there was no access to the embassies of origin nor to their families.

"They were detained without charge with no access to any communication nor to legal representation.

"The Chinese, now trying to find reasons for the detention, suggested that some members were linked to a terror group, to a banned organisation, to watching propaganda videos in their hotel room."

The charity said representatives from the British, South African and Chinese governments met yesterday to secure the release of 11 of the 20 people being held.

Six British nationals have flights secured today and will arrive in the UK tomorrow, it added.

No formal charges were put to any of the 20 detainees, it claimed.

The charity said: "The Chinese must be told in no uncertain terms to provide the evidence and proof if the South Africans have terror links, charge them and take them to trial, alternatively, they must release them immediately and unconditionally.

"The conditions in the detention centre, apparently, are not good. Family members are extremely worried and want finality on the issue."

On its website, Gift of the Givers says it is the largest disaster response charity of African origin working in the continent.

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