FBI arrests man in disappearance of Chinese grad student

NOW: FBI arrests man in disappearance of Chinese grad student

By Ralph Ellis

(CNN) -- A man has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of a visiting Chinese graduate student last seen June 9 on the University of Illinois campus, the US Attorney's Office for Central Illinois said Friday.

Investigators with the FBI think the student, Yingying Zhang, 26, is probably dead, news release from the attorney's office said.

Brendt Christensen, 27, of Champaign, Illinois, was charged with kidnapping, the news release said.

An affidavit says Christensen was under surveillance Thursday when agents overheard him saying he kidnapped Zhang, the statement said.

"Based on this, and other facts uncovered during the investigation of this matter, law enforcement agents believe that Ms. Zhang is no longer alive," the statement from the US Attorney's Office said, without offering further details.

The FBI says Christensen was driving the black Saturn Astra that was captured on security camera video picking up Zhang the afternoon of June 9.

She was shown entering the front passenger side of the vehicle, which then drove away.

There are more than 300,000 Chinese students and scholars attending US universities. Zhang's disappearance triggered widespread concern in China, with discussion of the case dominating both social and traditional media.

Zhang had a year-long position at the university's department of natural resources and environmental sciences. She graduated from Beijing's prestigious Peking University last year with a master's degree in environmental engineering, according to a department webpage.

Christensen's first court appearance is at 10 a.m. Monday in federal court in Urbana.


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