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US Football Player Released After 3 Years in Chinese Prison

'Hallelujah! I'm free!' says Wendell Brown
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2019 2:50 PM CDT
Wendell Brown is interviewed, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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(Newser) – As the word dropped from Wendell Brown's lips, the former college football player and Detroit native appeared to try to relish its taste for just a moment more: "Freedom." After three years in a Chinese prison for allegedly assaulting a man during a bar fight, Brown returned home Wednesday to the hugs and smiling faces of his loved ones, the AP reports. Outside of his family's brick house on Detroit's east side, he took a few moments to reflect on regaining his freedom. "We don't really understand that word to its fullest extent until (we're) without it," Brown said. "Hallelujah! I'm free!" Brown, 32, was hesitant Wednesday to discuss the Chongqing bar incident, which he referred to as a "minor altercation," or his treatment in prison. "I'm just very fortunate that it's over," he said, adding that he will soon head to Florida to see his 12-year-old son.

Brown, who played at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Detroit and Ball State University in Indiana, was teaching English and coaching American football in southwestern China when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with intentional assault. Brown, who was the only person prosecuted over the incident, denied hitting the man and said he was defending himself after being attacked. And witnesses said Brown was being harassed by other patrons. However, the court ruled that he "didn't do enough to de-escalate the situation," according to the Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based rights monitoring group. Brown was sentenced to four years in prison, but a Chinese court later reduced it to three years, saying that was due to apologies and expressions of forgiveness between Brown and others involved in the fight, as well as Brown's payment of $28,750 in compensation. (Read more China stories.)

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