US College Student Freed From Chinese Detention

By Shelby Hamilton, July 28, 2017

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An American student accused of intentionally injuring a taxi driver in China has been freed from detention.

Guthrie McLean, 25, was arrested in Zhengzhou, Henan on July 17 after he was accused of shoving a taxi driver who was allegedly roughing up his mother over a fare dispute.  

The University of Montana student and his mother, Jennifer McLean, were questioned by police officers after the incident. They were told that his mother showed no physical indications of being roughed up and that the taxi driver had injured his knee from the altercation.

Jennifer reports that the police then asked for large sums of money in exchange for her son’s release. She said she was also told he would be imprisoned for three years if no payment was made.

US officials then got into negotiation discussions with Chinese authorities to arrange for Guthrie to be freed. This took round-the-clock working and communication efforts in order to get the student out of the detention center.

Montana Senator Steve Daines said, "We were able to come to an agreement that worked for everybody, most importantly for Guthrie and for Jennifer, his mother."

Charges against the college senior, majoring in East Asian studies, have now been dropped. Details of the negotiations have not been released.

The student’s experience of China had been different up until now. Guthrie grew up in China because Jennifer had been teaching and living there. He studied at a Chinese university before deciding to transfer to University of Montana to finish his degree. After his ordeal, he told local newspaper The Missoulian, “This incident was done as part of the actions of a taxi driver and a few old-fashioned thinking police officers.”

An agreement was made and finalized on July 21. Guthrie was then released from the detention center and reunited with his mother.

Local police officers involved in the case declined to make any comments on the situation.  

[Image via The Missoulian]

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