Richard Gere's Indian Arrest Warrant Suspended

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NEW DELHI — Richard Gere is free to go back to India _ and he may have a new reason to book a trip.

India's top court suspended an arrest warrant Friday against Gere, wanted for allegedly breaking public obscenity laws by kissing Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at a public AIDS awareness event last year.

"Gere is allowed to come and leave. He can't be arrested," said Anil Grover, an attorney for Shetty, after attending the Supreme Court proceedings.

Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justice R. V. Raveendran indefinitely stayed the arrest warrant issued against the actor last year by a court in the northwestern Indian city of Jaipur, Grover told The Associated Press.

Gere embraced and kissed Shetty on her cheek at the public AIDS awareness event in New Delhi on April 15 last year, prompting Hindu hard-liners to allege the pair had offended the sensibilities of India's traditionally conservative culture. Hindu activists filed three cases against Gere and Shetty last year, including one in Jaipur.

Shortly after the cases were filed by Hindu activists, Gere apologized for any offense he may have caused, but he also said the whole controversy was manufactured by a small hard-line political party.

The 58-year-old Buddhist actor and longtime Tibetan supporter is a frequent visitor to India, promoting health issues and the cause of Tibetan exiles, tens of thousands of whom live in India.

His publicist, Alan Nierob, said in an e-mail Friday to The Associated Press that Gere would have no comment on the matter. However, Gere did tell CNN he wasn't surprised protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in Tibet turned violent Friday.

"When you repress the people, they will explode," Gere told CNN. "All people will explode."

Eyewitness accounts and photos posted on the Internet portrayed a chaotic scene in Lhasa, the provincial capital, with crowds hurling rocks at security forces, hotels and restaurants. The U.S. Embassy said Americans had reported gunfire. U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported two people killed.

Gere told the cable news network that "this is a time to be very clear with the Chinese."

"If you want to be a world power, you must behave in a certain way. This is not appropriate," said Gere, who co-founded the Tibet House and is board chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet.