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Swiss Olympic protestors appear before Moscow court

A photographer is bundled into a police van during the anti-Beijing demonstration in Moscow

(Keystone)

Five Swiss nationals, who were arrested in Moscow during a protest against Beijing's candidacy for the 2008 Olympics, are appearing in court on Thursday.

They are among nine protestors detained on Wednesday after taking part in what the Russians say was an unauthorised demonstration. The group spent the night in Moscow hotels after receiving their court summons.

The protest was led by Yangzom Brauen, a Swiss who heads the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe. An American journalist and two Tibetans were also among those detained.

Police rounded up the pro-Tibetan activists outside the World Trade Center, where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is meeting on Friday to choose the host city for the 2008 summer games. The group had just unfurled a banner criticising China over its human rights record in Tibet.

"No sooner had we unfurled the banner than the police appeared and arrested us," one of the Swiss demonstrators said.

The international journalists' association, Reporters Sans Frontières, condemned the arrests in a letter to the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

"These arbitrary arrests are an indication of what could happen in China if Beijing is awarded the 2008 games," Robert Ménard, the association's secretary-general said.

The mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, has promised the IOC that its session in Moscow will pass off peacefully. Apart from Beijing, the committee is considering bids from Paris, Toronto, Istanbul and Osaka.

swissinfo with agencies


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