Suspect charged for kidnapping Chinese scholar Zhang Yingying



A federal grand jury indicted Brendt Christensen on

Wednesday for kidnapping Chinese visiting scholar Zhang Yingying last

month, federal prosecutors said.

Acting US Attorney

Patrick D. Hansen and FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox of

Springfield Division announced the indictment on the website of the US

Department of Justice.

The preliminary hearing that

had been scheduled on July 14 for the case has been canceled. The date

for Christensen's arraignment will be scheduled by the US Clerk of the

Court near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) campus.

The indictment alleges that Christensen kidnapped and

held Zhang on June 9. The penalty for kidnapping is up to life in prison

if convicted.

Christensen was previously arrested

and charged by criminal complaint on June 30. On July 5, U.S. Magistrate

Judge Eric Long ordered that Christensen remain detained in custody

pending trial.

Zhang was last seen entering a black

Saturn Astra on June 9. According to an affidavit previously filed with

the court, the car allegedly driven by Christensen had stopped next to

Zhang at an intersection in Champaign, and then pulled away.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), University of

Illinois Police Department and the Illinois State Police believe Zhang

is deceased, based on evidence presented in court and other facts

uncovered during the ongoing investigation.

The US

Attorney's Office, Urbana Division, reminds the public that an

indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed

innocent unless proven guilty.