• Log In

  • Incident Reports | 5 March, 2008 (19:05)

    Czech Reporter Threatened With Deportation Over Refugee Interviews

    A cameraman for Czech TV says undercover police in Shenyang, Liaoning province, searched his room, seized four videotapes and went through his computer after he conducted interviews with North Korean refugees.

    Officials at the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the journalist of funding and planning the storming of “foreign offices” in Beijing, charges he denies. Police questioned the reporter for approximately two-and-a-half hours in a Holiday Inn hotel restaurant and in his room. The police searched the reporter’s computer and two mobile phones, despite his objections. They searched his room, opening all the drawers, going through his personal belongings and checking his bed.

    The journalist unsuccessfully tried to reach someone at the Chinese Foreign Ministry. An official at the Czech Embassy asked to speak to the undercover agent, but the agent hung up. The agents did not allow the journalist to make any more phone calls or answer his phone.

    The police opened the safe in his room, removed four videotapes and confiscated them, and searched through an external hard drive they found in the safe.

    During the search the journalist defended himself, saying that as a foreign journalist he has the right to talk with consenting interviewees under the Olympic free reporting rules. He was told that he could only interview people related to Olympics. The agents did not present a search warrant, and did not give the journalist a receipt for the videos they seized.

    The following day the reporter lodged a complaint with the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing and requested the return of the tapes. Later, the Foreign Ministry summoned the reporter and claimed to have evidence he was planning and financing the storming
    of foreign offices in Beijing.

    “I was told if I had broken a law I would be deported. I would only be allowed to remain in the country if a situation like Shenyang were never repeated.’”

    The journalist has received reports (http://www.hrwf.net/) that the four refugees he was supposed to interview were detained by
    Chinese authorities shortly before his hotel room was searched.