Why Has China Detained A Former US Air Force Pilot?

Air Force Col. Todd Hohn foreground and pilots assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing are briefed on an exercise at Altus Air Force Base Okla

Hohn was reportedly accused of illegally transporting ammunition and a family lawyer in Florida confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that he had been detained in China.

Geng did not name Hohn, but said Guangzhou customs had blocked the pilot from leaving the country "on suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition".

Sources told the newspaper that Hohn was released and moved to a hotel, but his passport, cellphone and other communication devices remained in the custody of authorities and he has been refused exit from mainland China until an investigation concluded.

While FedEx didn't provide details, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the pilot was a former U.S. Air Force colonel who was detained a week ago after he was found carrying nonmetallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns.

FedEx, which did not name Hohn, said in a statement it was "working with the appropriate authorities to gain a better understanding of the facts".

The U.S. pilot was arrested last Thursday at an worldwide airport in the southern city of Guangzhou as he was preparing to board a flight to Hong Kong, the ministry said.

No explanation of why Hohn was transporting the pellets was provided.


Separately, police in China's Fujian province started an investigation into a package containing a gun delivered by FedEx to a company in China, state media reported in August.

FedEx said this week that its business outlook for the year has darkened dramatically amid the U.S.

But now he is reportedly not allowed to leave the mainland until an investigation has been completed.

Chinese authorities informed the US consulate in Guangzhou a day after he was detained, Geng said, adding that the case was still under investigation. The telecom giant said at the time it would review its ties with the courier service over the incident. In June, FedEx sued the Commerce Department to stop enforcement of export rules that restrict shipments to Huawei and other entities.

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accused the U.S. of training protesters.

After the US slapped curbs on Huawei, China's Commerce Ministry announced the creation of the list in late May to target firms that the government says damage the interests of domestic companies.

As for Hohn himself, Business Insider reported that he was the commander of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Oklahoma's Altus Air Force Base until 2017.

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