LONDON — A German student who threw his shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a lecture a Cambridge University earlier this year was cleared of any crime Tuesday.
District Judge Ken Sheraton told Martin Jahnke that there was not enough evidence to convict him of a public order offense, but warned Jahnke to watch his behavior in the future.
Jahnke, 27, disrupted Wen's speech on Feb. 2 when he blew a whistle, accused the Chinese leader of being a dictator, and hurled his left sneaker at the premier.
Like the better-known attack on President George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist a few months earlier, the shoe missed its target. But the incident _ which came at the tail end of a three-day visit dogged by protests over Tibet and human rights issues _ ruffled feathers in China.
The country's foreign ministry called the act "despicable," while Chinese Internet chat rooms were filled with patriotic messages denouncing the protester.
Jahnke, who moved to the U.K. after studying in Berlin, said he was making a "legitimate protest" and had not intended to harm anyone. His lawyer complained that Chinese officials had pressured British prosecutors into pressing charges, something the country's Crown Prosecution Service has denied.
Jahnke's lawyer read a statement after the decision saying his client was pleased with the result, and calling on the public to focus on China's human rights record.
A call to the Chinese Embassy in London after hours Tuesday rang unanswered.