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Former CFL player and Detroit native sentenced to 4 years in Chinese prison

Wendell Brownstanding at the front of a classroom
Courtesy of Antoinette Brown
Wendell Brown teaching a group of Chinese people about American football before he was arrested in 2016

Former Canadian Football League player and Detroit native Wendell Brown has been sentenced to four years in prison in China.

Brown moved to Chongqing, China to play for a startup American football league, but ended up coaching players instead.  

Brown was accused of injuring a Chinese man in a bar fight and was arrested in September 2016, but the man he was accused of fighting later admitted that he lied about the incident.

Several witnesses say Brown was simply defending himself and that he didn’t injure his accuser.

Antoinette Brown, Wendell’s mom, says he is staying positive despite the circumstances.

“He wants us all to remain strong and to continue to pray, and he said continue to fight because he will,” Brown said.

According to an expert in Chinese law, Wendell is being credited for the 21 months he has already servedand will be eligible for parole this September.

John Kamm, Founder of Dui Hua, is an expert in Chinese law who is trying to help Brown released.

Kamm started Dui Hau to advocate for universal human rights for “at-risk” detainees in China. He says Brown will appeal his sentence.

“This is by no means the end, it is the beginning. And this is going to be a case that I intend to raise frequently at every level until justice is done,” Kamm said.

Kamm also says the man who accused Brown of hitting him admitted that he lied about the incident.

In recent months, more stateside politicians have been making a push to bring Brown home, but the case has drawn little national attention outside of sparse reporting from sports news outlets.

Wendell’s mom remains hopeful that more politicians will get involved to advocate for her son’s release.

“I’m still trying to get Governor Snyder to mention [the case], and I hope [President] Trump can get my son out like he did for other boys that were in China,” she said.  

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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