A Hong Kong news channel’s cameraman was injured, handcuffed and taken away by Chinese police on Wednesday whilst reporting on a prominent human rights lawyer’s hearing.
The cameraman was with another Now TV journalist at a Beijing Lawyers Association hearing relating to the disqualification of Xie Yanyi for alleged misconduct.
Now TV said it was extremely angered by the unreasonable blocking of reporting and the violent treatment of the cameraman, and demanded his immediate release. He was later released, after he was forced to sign a letter of repentance, and went to a hospital to have his injuries examined. He was given a band-aid to stop the bleeding on his forehead.
A clip released by the news channel showed the cameraman being pushed onto the ground by several police officers – some in uniform and some in plain clothes – before he was handcuffed. He was bleeding on his forehead when he was put into a police van.
The Now TV reporter said the police asked them to present press passes and identity cards, and they complied. She said her documents were given back to her quickly, but the police held the cameraman’s documents for more than five minutes.
“We asked them why they wouldn’t give them back to us, they said they still have to check, before the confrontation got bigger and they grabbed our cameraman,” she said.
Xie, who was preparing to attend the hearing, was also arrested by police. Xie was one of the human rights lawyers taken away by authorities amid the “709 crackdown” in 2015.
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Xie’s wife, Yuan Shanshan, told RTHK that her husband was helping the journalists and he was bundled into a police vehicle. Xie was beaten inside with scratches on his neck, she said.
Xie was later allowed into the hearing, but Yuan criticised that she was forbidden from photocopying documents from the hearing.
Now TV said it has notified Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, as well as the Hong Kong government, to step in.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the Hong Kong government attaches great importance to reporters’ personal safety when reporting on news.
He said he has instructed the government’s office in Beijing to follow up on the incident and provide assistance. He added that the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office has stepped in.
Last Saturday, outside the old site of Juyuan High School covering the tenth-year anniversary of the devastating Sichuan earthquake, Commercial Radio’s Edward Lui was surrounded by men who tried to drag him out of the vehicle and take the equipment in his bag, but relatives of the victims pulled them off and prevented them from getting close to Lui.
Chan Ho-fai, a reporter from i-Cable TV News, then took out his phone to record the events and was subsequently beaten up by two men in Dujiangyan, suffering multiple injuries.