China releases FedEx pilot after nine-month detention

The pilot was detained last year on suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Chinese authorities have released a US pilot for FedEx Corp who was detained last year on suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition, the pilot's lawyer said.

Mr Todd Hohn, a former United States Air Force pilot, was detained in September in the southern city of Guangzhou after he piloted a FedEx freighter aircraft. Chinese authorities said at the time that they had found suspected air gun pellets in his luggage.

Mr Hohn "on June 27, 2020 departed Guangzhou, China and has reunited with his loving family", his lawyer Theodore Simon said in a statement sent to Reuters on Tuesday (June 30).

"After this lengthy legal process, his innocence was demonstrated and ultimately recognised," he said.

Mr Hohn had remained free on bail since 2019 and it was officially determined that no formal criminal charges would be brought against him.

"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," Mr Simon said.

Mr Hohn's detention occurred at a time when US delivery giant FedEx had become one of the most high-profile corporate brands to get caught up in the US-China trade dispute and other frictions.

The Memphis-based company had last year been the target of Chinese ire over shipping mistakes involving several packages, including parcels addressed to China's Huawei Technologies Co, which Washington has put on an export blacklist.

FedEx did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Beijing said they were aware of the case but had no further comment.

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