Amer­i­can in China freed af­ter dis­pute

Stu­dent de­fended his mom in at­tack

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - MATTHEW BROWN

Jen­nifer McLean had al­leged that po­lice de­manded the equiv­a­lent of $7,400 in com­pen­sa­tion from the fam­ily and threat­ened to im­prison her son for up to three years if they re­fused to pay.

BILLINGS, Mont. — Chi­nese author­i­ties have dropped charges against an Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent who was ar­rested and de­tained in the Asian na­tion a week ago af­ter re­port­edly in­jur­ing a taxi driver who was rough­ing up his mother in a fare dis­pute, a U.S. law­maker said Sun­day.

Guthrie McLean, a Univer­sity of Mon­tana se­nior, was re­leased from a de­ten­tion cen­ter in the cen­tral China city of Zhengzhou early to­day lo­cal time, ac­cord­ing to Repub­li­can Sen. Steve Daines of Mon­tana.

“We are very, very very, very happy,” Jen­nifer McLean wrote in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press. She said the re­lease — at 2 a.m. lo­cal time when her son was de­liv­ered to her doorsteps — came as a sur­prise af­ter she’d twice been told to an­tic­i­pate a re­lease only to be dis­ap­pointed.

“They have not fin­ished the process com­pletely, but we are hope­ful it will go smoothly from here on,” she said.

The re­lease fol­lowed an agree­ment with Chi­nese author­i­ties to drop any charges against Guthrie McLean, ac­cord­ing to Daines.

Fur­ther de­tails on the agree­ment were not dis­closed. Lo­cal po­lice in China could not be reached this morn­ing for com­ment on the case.

Daines and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Demo­crat, and Rep. Greg Gian­forte, a Repub­li­can, had pressed McLean’s case with China’s Am­bas­sador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai and Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son. The lawmakers said McLean had been jus­ti­fi­ably de­fend­ing his mother, who is deaf, from the driver, whose knee was re­port­edly hurt in the en­counter.

The col­lege stu­dent ma­jor­ing in East Asian stud­ies was de­tained five weeks later, on July 16, on charges of in­ten­tional in­jury.

Jen­nifer McLean had al­leged that po­lice de­manded the equiv­a­lent of $7,400 in com­pen­sa­tion from the fam­ily and threat­ened to im­prison her son for up to three years if they re­fused to pay.

Daines said the fam­ily did not pay that amount, but he de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

“We were able to come to an agree­ment that worked for ev­ery­body, most im­por­tantly for Guthrie and for Jen­nifer, his mother,” Daines said in a con­fer­ence call with re­porters.

The State Depart­ment de­clined to com­ment on its in­volve­ment in the case or the agree­ment with Chi­nese author­i­ties. Tester and Gian­forte is­sued state­ments Sun­day say­ing they were pleased with the out­come of the case.

Guthrie McLean has been a stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Mon­tana in Mis­soula for about two years and worked for the past year in the Depart­ment of Mod­ern and Classical Lan­guages and Lit­er­a­tures, his boss, Olivia White, has said.

He largely grew up in China af­ter liv­ing in Mis­soula as a young child while his mother was study­ing at the univer­sity, White said.

AP

This un­dated file photo pro­vided by Jen­nifer McLean shows her son, Univer­sity of Mon­tana stu­dent Guthrie McLean, on the Great Wall of China.

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