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  • Incident Reports | 23 October, 2014 (00:00)

    Reporter detained for more than 14 hours and locked in restraining chair for interrogation

    October 23th 2014

    The correspondent arrived on 9:10 AM at Yongdingqiao Xijie, near the central office for petitions and letters. He walked around on the public street in front, took around ten photos, one petitioner passed him a leaflet which he stored in his pocket without reading, and the reporter bought a leaflet with Xi Jinping’s face on it from a street side vendor.

    At 10:10 several uniformed men approached the correspondent and asked (in Chinese) to show his passport. The correspondent told them that he didn’t have it with him, asked if he can go home, and moved to flag down a taxi. At this point the correspondent was grabbed by around four men, and dragged into a room perhaps 20 meters away.

    At 10:15, the correspondent asked for identification from the men. They refused to show it. They asked if he was a journalist, which the reporter confirmed and showed them his press card. The reporter asked several times if he could leave, and walked towards the door, at which point the security men pulled him back. One uniformed man who he may have made brief contact with fell over in a theatrical manner, and grabbed his ankle as if injured. The correspondent was not allowed to make a phone call. His mobile phone was confiscated.

    At 11:00, new security staff arrived. One plainclothes officer pushed the reporter against a wall with force when the correspondent asked for his ID. The plainclothes officer, along with some officers in uniform, arranged a ‘formal’ interrogation, where questions and answers were written down. The reporter was asked about his reasons for coming to the street near the petitioner office, was accused of pushing over a police officer.

    At 1:00 PM, the correspondent was transported to a police station in a police car.

    At 1:15, the police told the reporter to take his clothes off for a physical examination. When the reporter refused, the police decided to skip the exam.

    At 2:00, police escorted the reporter to an interrogation room, and locked him to a metal chair, ‘for his safety’. He asked if he could make a phone call or contact a lawyer for advice, but he was not allowed to. Then he was questioned again.

    The officers tried to get him to confess that he had pushed over an officer. During the interrogation, the reporter was locked in the chair.

    At 4:30 the reporter had to sign a statement and submit to a drug test.

    From 5:00 PM to 1:30 AM, the correspondent was kept in a room at the police station, with chairs and a bed, with about three officers watching him at all times.

    At 1:30 AM, a document was produced showing the results of an ‘investigation’ stating that he had obstructed the police, and pushed an officer over. He refused to sign the document. Police produced another document, with the same charges but a space below for his objection to the pushing accusation.

    At 2:30, the police forced the correspondent to delete photos from his phones, confiscated Chinese language documents including some pages he printed from the internet. One police officer says he will inform the foreign ministry, and that his ability to work in China (visa) will be affected without specifying precisely how.

    The Bureau chief was summoned to MOFA on November 6th for a meeting. They showed the video of the incident to him, but there was no sign of any “assault” on the policeman who fell down, apparently on purpose. The MOFA official insisted that journalists should present their ID immediately without arguing nor “challenging the authority” of the police. MOFA made clear that the petitioner centre area doesn’t require any special authorization for reporters. The meeting went well with both sides agreeing that the incident had been blown out of proportion.

    The reporter has since been issued a press card valid for only six months instead of the standard one-year duration.