IOC To China: Don't Hinder Journalists
The International Olympic Committee criticized Chinese security officials who detained and manhandled a British journalist as he was covering a pro-Tibet protest on Wednesday.
"The IOC does disapprove of any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job seemingly within the rules and regulations," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies told a daily press briefing Thursday in Beijing. "This, we hope, has been addressed. We don't want to see this happening again."
John Ray, a Beijing correspondent for Britain's Independent Television Network, was set upon by police at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, near the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium. They pinned his arms, took away his shoes and phone and threw him into a police van, even though he repeatedly shouted that he was a journalist.
An official from the Beijing Public Security Bureau told the Associated Press that officers mistook Ray for an activist. The eight protesters he had been trying to cover, seven Americans and a Japanese citizen who is half-Tibetan, have been deported.
The incident is among several examples of foreign journalists being blocked from reporting in China, despite government and Olympic official promises the media would be free to operate in the country during the Games.
The Foreign Correspondent Club of China today reported another incident of harassment, this time involving reporters who were attempting on Aug. 7 to report on migrant workers who had been forced to leave Beijing as part of an Olympics "clean up" campaign.
Local officials and plainclothes officers approached the two, Kristoffer Ronneberg, correspondent for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, and Jes Randrup Nielsen of Jyllands-Posten in Denmark, five minutes after they arrived in a small village. A local official asked for their documents. Then three unmarked cars followed the journalists, "and made it impossible for us to talk to sources without putting them in danger," Ronneberg told the FCCC.
The official said the reporters needed permission from Chinese propaganda authorities to speak with residents, Ronneberg said, a violation of recently relaxed rules that allow foreign reporters to interview anyone who grants them permission. The reporters left without getting the story because of the obstructions, and said officials videotaped them as they departed.
-- Jill Drew
August 14, 2008; 8:19 AM ET
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