A group of protesters is asking local government officials to help get a U of I grad on the other side of the world released from prison.

U.S. Citizen Charles Li is being held in a prison in China.

Protesters say Li was arrested for practicing Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese philosophy that teaches compassion and meditation. They also say Li is being tortured.

"Falun Gong is persecuted very heavily in China, they put people in mental hospitals, they are given drugs, put in forced labor camps and forced to work 16-18 hours a day, and given two to three hours of sleep," said Leon Lemmons, a protester.

The Chinese government since January has imprisoned Li. He was arrested while he was visiting the country.