March 23, 2003

Four followers of the Falun Gong movement gathered in front of the Douglas County Courthouse Saturday to protest the sentencing of an American in China for his actions related to the organization.

Charles Li of Menlo Park, Calif., was sentenced to three years in prison by a Chinese court Friday [under false charges]. The court also ordered him deported, and it wasn't clear whether he would be expelled from the country without having to serve his sentence.

[...] Falun Gong promotes spirituality and improved health through meditation.

Margaret Jiang, who traveled from Iowa to join three Omahans in the protest, said the Chinese government is using Li as an example.

"It's not only a direct threat to him, but also to many people around the world who practice Falun Gong," she said.

The movement was banned by the Chinese government in 1999. People in more than 60 countries practice Falun Gong.