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Bizarre custody feud unfolds in China

Beijing, Oct. 17 (Reuters): An American mother fighting a bizarre custody battle with her Chinese ex-husband in his native province said today she had left the central city of Zhengzhou by car after paying him $60,000.

“We are on the road,” Camille Colvin told Reuters by mobile telephone as she, her son Griffin and her brother Cal rode north to Beijing from Zhengzhou, a journey of around 500 km.

Colvin said they were trapped in a hotel for nine days under threats from her ex-husband, Guo Rui, who was staying in an adjacent room in the same suite.

She said Guo, accused of snatching and fleeing with the five-year-old boy from New York, posted dozens of associates throughout the hotel and demanded up to $130,000 to let her leave with the boy.

Guo and his relatives have denied allegations against them, calling them “propaganda” drummed up by Western media.

Two privately hired bodyguards and a driver were escorting the three Americans after Colvin struck a deal with her former spouse. “The money demanded by Guo Rui was remitted and arrived in Zhengzhou this afternoon,” a source said. “It was around $60,000.”

Guo handed over a second copy of Griffin’s passport to Colvin as part of the deal, the source said. The family was expected to arrive Beijing by morning and fly back to the United States soon, he said.

A US court granted Colvin custody of the boy when she divorced Guo last September. Guo, a permanent US resident, was allowed weekly visits under supervision, members of the Colvin family say. Guo slipped away with Griffin during a visit in July, shaking off a private investigator hired to watch them, they say. Manhattan and federal arrests warrants for Guo on kidnapping charges were issued, they say.

Colvin and her brother found Griffin last week at the home of Guo’s parents in Zhengzhou.

The families ended up staying in adjacent rooms of the same hotel suite after an angry confrontation at a police station.

US embassy and Chinese foreign ministry officials met over the case. It was complicated because China has not signed the Hague convention on child abductions and because US court custody orders are not automatically binding abroad.

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