Two U.S. Air Force officers detained by China since last Saturday and accused of being spies were released early today, the State Department said.
“Our understanding is that they have been released but we don’t have any details on it,” said Sharon Bowman, a spokeswoman for the department. Bowman said she assumed that the two military attaches were released in Hong Kong.
The Beijing government on Wednesday said it was ordering the expulsion of the two officers, who U.S. intelligence sources had said were caught spying on a military facility across from Taiwan.
China identified them as Joseph Wei Chan, Air Force liaison officer, and Dwayne Howard Florenzie, assistant Air Force liaison officer. Both are based at the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong, the Chinese government said.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said the two officers “sneaked into a number of restricted military zones in China’s southeast coastal areas and illegally acquired military intelligence by photographing and videotaping,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Shen said the officers, who entered China on July 23, were caught “on the spot” Saturday “by Chinese soldiers on duty.” He gave no other details.