Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 15:07 UK

Father's 'pride' at China protest

Iain Thom. Pic: SFT
Iain Thom sent a text to his family to say he was fine

The father of one of four activists detained in Beijing after a protest about Tibet has said he is proud of his son's actions.

Iain Thom, 24, from Edinburgh, and three others from the UK and the US were arrested after unfurling banners close to the Olympic stadium.

His father Brian, who lives in Muir of Ord, near Inverness, said his son had text messaged him to say he was fine.

He said: "I am concerned about Iain, but we are also proud of him."

Iain Thom went to Beijing with the group Students for a Free Tibet (SFT).

The group said Lucy Fairbrother, 23, from Cambridge, was also among those arrested.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, said the four have been ordered to leave the country.

I'm here today because I've been a long-term Tibet activist and I feel like now is a really critical time for Tibet
Iain Thom
Speaking to the BBC

The Edinburgh student's father said SFT had called the family to break the news of his detention.

Brian Thom said: "An hour later we got a text from him to say he was well and he had been detained and they were looking after him."

He added: "He was passionate about Tibet's human rights issues. We fully support him and what he's done.

"My wife and myself are worried about him, but we are sure he is safe and the Chinese will treat him fairly and we hope to see him soon."

According to the SFT website, Iain Thom is an environmental campaigner and the former national co-ordinator for SFT UK.

Friends of the Earth confirmed that he worked for the organisation before leaving for Beijing. It called for his immediate release.

'Illegal gathering'

While suspended from the lighting pole in Beijing, Mr Thom spoke to the BBC by mobile phone.

He said: "I'm here today because I've been a long-term Tibet activist and I feel like now is a really critical time for Tibet.

"The Beijing Games have been used by the Chinese government as a propaganda tool to whitewash their human rights record in Tibet."

An Olympics organising committee spokesman said the protest was "an illegal gathering".

He added: "We want to express our strong opposition to this. China has relevant laws regarding protests and gatherings. We truly hope that foreigners coming to visit China will respect the relevant laws of China."

The British Embassy said the protest was under investigation.

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