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September 26, 2022
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Family says woman from east Idaho based company is out on bail in China

REXBURG –The family of a woman working for a former Rexburg-based English teaching program says the Chinese government released their daughter on bail Monday.

Authorities in China arrested Alyssa Petersen, China Horizon’s director, on Sept. 27 in the Jiangsu Province without any initial notification to her family. Two days later, police arrested her boss, Jacob Harlan – the owner and founder of the company that allows college students to visit China and teach English as a second language to native Chinese speakers. The local provincial government claims the two were illegally moving people across borders.

Petersen’s family announced this week on their GoFundMe page that they found out Chinese officials released her on bail. After receiving communication with their daughter and sister for over a month, the family was able to video chat with her for an hour. The family says the Chinese government restricts her movement within the city of Zhenjiang, a city about 150 miles from Shanghai.

“She looks good and is positive and has a good attitude,” the GoFundMe reads. “We still don’t know how long she will have to remain in China.”

On Oct. 17, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a news conference that Petersen and Harlan were released on bail. The next day a U.S. Department of State spokesperson told EastIdahoNews.com they had not been notified of Petersen’s release but remained in contact with her while providing “all appropriate consular services.”

Harlan’s arrest came with rising political tensions during the current trade war between the United States and China. However, Geng told reporters, “I don’t see any connection between this case and the current China-U.S. relations.”

In their GoFundMe post, Petersen’s family said she is thankful for the prayers, support, love and fasting for her.

“She said she was able to feel your love and prayers and knew she was being watched over,” the post reads. “Words cannot adequately express how thankful we are for the prayer, kindness, compassion and love our family has been given at this time.”

Petersen’s family declined to comment further for this story.

Little is known about Harlen’s case as his family’s GoFundMe page says “we seek to avoid media attention.” On a GoFundMe post, which was removed, Harlan was being held under police surveillance in a hotel in Yangzhong, near Zhenjiang.

Due to the situation and increasing political tensions between China and the United States, China Horizons closed its doors at the end of October.

To donate to Harlan’s GoFundMe page click here. To donate to Alyssa Petersen’s GoFundMe click here.

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: EastIdahoNews.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.

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