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Report: US Calls for Immediate Release of Eight American Activists

The United States is urging China to immediately release eight Americans who have been detained for participating in pro-Tibet rallies during the Olympics.

In an interview Saturday with the French news agency, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson urged China to show its respect for human rights and freedom of expression and religion by releasing the activists.

She also voiced the embassy's disappointment that China has not shown greater tolerance and openness during the Olympics.

Earlier this week, China handed out 10-day detention terms to six foreigners for participating in a small pro-Tibet protest on Tuesday. Two other Americans were detained on Thursday along with a British and German national. They were also put under detention.

China claims it is fulfilling its promises on issues such as human rights and freedom of the press during the Olympics.

But, international human rights groups disagree.

Human Rights Watch says China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics has undermined progress on human rights. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says the Olympics have been a disaster for free expression in China.

The group says that while reporters were allowed to freely cover sporting events, Chinese authorities did everything they could to keep them from investigating subjects that the government regards as sensitive.

In a statement released Friday, the group says at least 22 reporters have been attacked or arrested. It also says at least 50 Beijing human rights activists were placed under house arrest, harassed or forced to leave the capital during the Games.

China designated three parks as protest zones during the Olympics, but officials say not one of 77 requests for protests was approved. In some cases, those who have applied to protest and followed the directions of authorities have been detained or harassed.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.