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Page last updated at 18:15 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 19:15 UK

Olympics protester returns to UK

The Free Tibet banner
The banner was unfurled on a building next to an Olympic promotion

A Briton thrown out of China after unfurling a pro-Tibet banner in Beijing has returned to the UK.

Philip Kirk, 24, of St Albans, Herts, said he was "happy" to be home less than 24 hours after his protest outside the China Central Television building.

Along with Australian-Canadian Nicole Rycroft, 41, Mr Kirk, from the group Students for a Free Tibet, unfurled the banner in the early hours of Friday.

A Beijing Olympic Games spokesman said the protest was "unwelcome".

Wang Wei of the Beijing Olympic Games organising committee said that most foreigners did not understand the issue of Tibet.

"Tibet is an inalienable part of China and the whole world recognises it.

"A small number of people are trying to split the territory and that is not going to work at all," he said.

Obviously you're always worried when your child is arrested, especially abroad, but we are also very proud of what he is doing for the Tibetan people
Wendy Charlton
Philip Kirk's mother

The banner read "Free Tibet".

The pair abseiled down the hoarding at the new headquarters of China's state television, which was completed just before the start of the Games.

The climbers and three other protesters, all American, were arrested about half an hour after they were first spotted by security officials.

Proud mother

Mr Kirk's mother, Wendy Charlton, described her son as an "ordinary, outgoing person who loves climbing and is passionate about the Tibetan cause".

"Obviously you're always worried when your child is arrested, especially abroad, but we are also very proud of what he is doing for the Tibetan people. I am very pleased he is highlighting their plight.

"China seems so normal when you watch the Olympics on television, but you can't say what you want to say there," she said.

Philip Kirk
Philip Kirk was also arrested for pro-Tibet protests in Paris last April

"I know he practised beforehand to make sure they would be as safe as possible. They wanted to do (the protest) peacefully, but it is always a worry."

Previous protests

Last week two other British pro-Tibet protesters, Lucy Fairbrother, 23, from Cambridge, and Iain Thom, 24, from Edinburgh, were deported after scaling a 120ft-high (36.5m) lighting pole and unfurling banners reading "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet" and "Tibet will be free".

Eight demonstrators from Students for a Free Tibet were also detained on Wednesday after staging a demonstration.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Qin Gang, warned activists on Wednesday to obey the law in China, which does not allow unauthorised protests.

He said: "No matter Chinese citizens or foreigners, in China if you want to have processions or demonstrations, you should abide by Chinese laws and regulations."




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