The Chinese Communist Party released a FedEx pilot who had been held for nine months on charges that he was smuggling ammunition, according to a report.
Todd Hohn, a retired US Air Force colonel, was detained on Sept. 12 by Communist Chinese officials while waiting for a commercial flight in Guangzhou after flying deliveries for the air carrier in Asia, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Authorities said they found nonmetallic pellets used in replica air guns in his luggage.
In this Oct. 13, 2016, photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, 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. (Airman 1st Class Kirby Turbak/U.S. Air Force via AP)
“After this lengthy legal process, his innocence was demonstrated and ultimately recognized,” Theodore Simon, Hohn’s lawyer, said in a statement. “He has been completely and officially exonerated. In fact, it was officially determined that no formal criminal charges would even be brought.”
Hohn was released from China on Saturday and reunited with his family in Florida.
“It should be noted that Todd, despite the ordeal, states he was treated with courtesy and respect and holds no animosity towards China, the authorities or the people of China, and looks forward to returning there one day,” Simon said.
Hohn’s release comes amid turbulent tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic, trade issues, and the situation in Hong Kong, where a harsh new national security law was just passed.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on China to free two Canadian citizens charged with espionage to coerce Canada to release a top executive of tech giant Huawei.
Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, is being held on charges filed in the US.
The Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – were detained weeks after Meng was taken into custody at the Vancouver airport in 2018.
This article first appeared in the New York Post.