Expelled Reporters Arrive in Hong Kong; Filmed Before Leaving China With PM-China, Bjt
HONG KONG (AP) _ Two U.S. journalists expelled from China arrived in Hong Kong today, and one said the government ousted them because it did not want Chinese to learn the truth about the military suppression of protesters.
Plainclothes police in Beijing used video cameras to film the journalists, John Pomfret of The Associated Press and Alan Pessin of the U.S.-funded Voice of America, as they departed.
Chinese authorities on Wednesday accused them of martial law violations and gave them 72 hours to leave China.
They were the first Beijing-based reporters expelled after the military’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
Two British television reporters traveling on temporary visas also were ordered out of China and arrived in Hong Kong today.
″I’m sad to be leaving,″ Pomfret told reporters before leaving Beijing this afternoon. ″It’s a great country. I hope I can come back some day.″
The pair arrived in Hong Kong without incident three hours later.
Pessin said upon arriving that ″everything the Chinese government said about Voice Of America is wrong.″ The government accused the VOA of spreading rumors and instigating turmoil.
″I think they sent us out because they don’t want the world, and most particularly they don’t want the Chinese people, to know the truth about what’s been happening in China, especially what happened two weeks ago,″ Pessin said. Journalists Vernon Mann and John Elphinstone of the Independent Television News of Britain also arrived in Hong Kong today. The two, traveling on tourist visas, were detained Wednesday while filming unrest in the Sichuan capital, Chengdu, then expelled. A correspondent of the same news organization, Peter Newport, was expelled from Shanghai on June 10.
Martial law orders issued for Beijing on May 20 banned foreign reporters from interviewing student leaders of pro-democracy demonstrations and from taking photographs of troops or covering events around Tiananmen Square, where protesters had gathered for several weeks.
Journalists generally have ignored the regulations.
Estimates differ on how many died in the Beijing crackdown.
The government variously says 200 to 300 people, mostly soldiers, were killed. Unofficial Chinese and Western intelligence reports say troops fired on unarmed crowds and killed up to 3,000.
As Pomfret bid farewell to colleagues and friends at the Beijing airport today, police with portable video cameras followed. Two others filmed from an airport balcony but ducked out of sight when crews from Western television networks aimed cameras at them.
The Chinese media renewed their attacks on Pessin today.
Official Beijing television broadcast a commentary accusing Pessin and the Voice of America of ″rumor-mongering.″
The Voice of America, which broadcasts in Chinese, is a major source of information for millions of Chinese trying to go beyond what is reported in the tightly controlled domestic press.
Pessin told friends he had been harassed after his expulsion was ordered. He said he received an obscene telephone call from a man with a Chinese accent and several telexes that said: ″Yankee go home.″
His wife, Audrey, said Chinese men with a video camera followed her from the airport Thursday after she returned to Beijing on a flight from Bangkok.
Pomfret said a car followed him Friday night as he returned to his residence in a foreign diplomatic compound after a party for him and Pessin.
Elphinstone said in Hong Kong taht police officers in Chengdu put him and Mann through a ″self-criticism″ session before they were expelled.