Beijing Officials Follow, Tape Journalists

Aug 7, 2008

Local officials and plainclothes officers followed journalists attempting to report on migrant workers in Beijing, intimidating sources and later telling the journalists they needed government permission to conduct interviews.

Kristoffer Ronneberg, correspondent for the Norweigan newspaper Aftenposten, and Jes Randrup Nielsen of Jyllands-Posten (Denmark), were covering a story on migrant workers who were forced to leave Beijing because of a pre-Olympic clampdown. Five minutes after the media arrived at Pingfang village, a local official approached the reporters and asked for their identification; she recorded information from their documents.

Three unmarked cars and various officials followed the journalists “and made it impossible for us to talk to sources without putting them in danger,” recalled Ronneberg. The journalists confronted the officials following them; one said she had spoken to Propaganda authorities, who said they needed permission to speak with local people.

“This is, of course, a clear violation of the new rules for foreign reporters,” said Ronneberg. The journalists, who decided to leave because of the obstruction, were also videotaped by the officials following them.