Sus­pect in scholar kid­nap­ping de­nied bail

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG LINYAN and ZHANG RUINAN in Cham­paign, Illi­nois Contact the writ­ers at wan­glinyan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Brendt Chris­tensen, charged with kid­nap­ping a vis­it­ing Chi­nese scholar in the United States, was or­dered held with­out bail on Wed­nes­day by a US fed­eral judge in Ur­bana, Illi­nois.

Dur­ing the hear­ing in the Dis­trict Court for the Cen­tral Dis­trict of Illi­nois, US Mag­is­trate Eric Long said that Chris­tensen, 28, pre­sented a danger to the com­mu­nity and was a flight risk.

Chris­tensen, who has a master’s de­gree in physics from the Univer­sity of Illi­nois, was ar­rested on June 30 on a charge of kid­nap­ping Zhang Yingy­ing, a 26-year-old stu­dent at the same school.

Zhang has not been found, and po­lice be­lieve she is dead. Sun­day will mark one month since her June 9 dis­ap­pear­ance, when she got in a car al­legedly driven by Chris­tensen.

Ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint made pub­lic at the hear­ing, Chris­tensen made state­ments about the char­ac­ter­is­tics of an ideal vic­tim while he was un­der sur­veil­lance at a vigil for Zhang on June 29.

The FBI cap­tured au­dio of him say­ing how Zhang fought and re­sisted af­ter he brought her back to his Cham­paign apart­ment, and of his threats to an­other per­son to whom he made the in­crim­i­nat­ing state­ments.

“The facts speak to the very danger the de­fen­dant presents to the com­mu­nity,” said Bryan Fr­eres, the as­sis­tant US At­tor­ney who is pros­e­cut­ing the case. “The cir­cum­stances of the case in­di­cate the de­fen­dant used vi­o­lence.”

Liu Jun, acting Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in Chicago, said he spoke to the FBI af­ter the hear­ing on Wed­nes­day and asked the bureau step up ef­forts to find Zhang as soon as pos­si­ble.

“This is the most ur­gent thing at the mo­ment,” Liu said. “They have put in the best de­tec­tive ex­perts and have been work­ing on the case around the clock.”

The Univer­sity of Illi­nois Po­lice Depart­ment, the Illi­nois State Po­lice and lo­cal po­lice also are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“In a case like this, it’s not un­usual for bail to be de­nied,” Evan Bruno, Chris­tensen’s at­tor­ney, said out­side the court­house.

Mem­bers of Zhang’s fam­ily at­tended the hear­ing on Wed­nes­day and an ini­tial hear­ing on Mon­day. Chris­tensen, in a jail jump­suit, re­mained silent dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings.

A pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing has been sched­uled for July 14, but that could be waived if a grand jury re­turns an in­dict­ment be­fore then.

The facts speak to the very danger the de­fen­dant presents to the com­mu­nity.” Bryan Fr­eres, as­sis­tant US at­tor­ney pros­e­cut­ing the case

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