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Pro-Tibet protesters return to London

Aug. 07, 2008, 9:48 a.m. (ET)

LONDON (AP) Two Britons were greeted with cheers Thursday as they returned from China where they had protested the country's human rights record ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

A handful of pro-Tibet supporters met Lucy Fairbrother, 23, and Iain Thom, 24, at London's City Airport, a day after they were detained and sent home from Beijing for their demonstration.

The two spoke to reporters in front of a Tibetan flag in an arrival hall.

"We were at the Beijing Olympics to shine a spotlight on China's attempts to use the Olympic Games to whitewash its human rights record. I think we've achieved that today," Thom told reporters.

The two were detained, along with two other protesters, after tall climbing lamp poles and putting up banners proclaiming "Free Tibet" outside the Beijing National Stadium - also known as the Bird's Nest - on Wednesday.

"It was not difficult to get through the security as we had been planning this for four years," Thom said.

Fairbrother said they were questioned but treated well by Chinese authorities before being taken to a Beijing airport and sent home.

"We are only a very small part of this campaign and the ongoing struggle. We will carry on fighting and there will be more protests during the Olympic Games," Fairbrother said.

Thom, of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Fairbrother, of London, are members of Students for a Free Tibet.

The group said the other two protesters, Phill Bartell from Denver, Colo., and Tirian Mink from Portland, Ore., also were ordered to leave China on Thursday.

Foreigners who protest Beijing's human rights record or official policy of atheism on Chinese soil normally face deportation.