Chinese student held by Iraqi forces not linked to IS, say officials

Beijing,: A Chinese archaeology student captured by the Iraqi volunteer forces, has no links to the Islamic State and will be sent back home soon, the Chinese Embassy in Iraq has said.

“We have verified with local police that they do not think that the Chinese man is a terrorist and will ensure his safety,” an embassy official told China’s state-run Global Times.

The response came after reports that volunteer forces named Hashad al-Shabi seized the Chinese man while fighting among the IS ranks in Al-Anbar province in Iraq.

It also posted a picture of an Asian-looking man who was sitting in a chair and guarded by armed men.

The Chinese embassy official said that the man was being held in a police station in Samarra, a city in Salahuddin province in Iraq.

“He may be released after Ramadan since all government departments were on holiday,” the official added.

The man, later identified as Liu Wei (pseudonym), is an archaeology student from Peking University who went to Iraq for an archaeological tour, according to news site thepaper.cn.

Liu went to visit the historical sites in Iraq as some of them are disappearing and he learned some simple Arabic and customs related to Ramadan before entering Iraq, a friend of Liu was quoted as saying by the paper.

Liu wrote in a travel plan in May on social network renren.com that he wanted to go to regions south of Baghdad and the Kurdish region which might be safer, and he was worried about missing this opportunity to go to Iraq considering the fierce attacks of the IS and his time schedule.

An official who worked in Iraq for a long time told the Global Times anonymously it might be true that the man was on an archaeological tour as some people at the archaeology department of Peking University had previously applied to Iraqi government agencies for official acknowledgement of archaeological tours.

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