American Reporter Expelled From China
PEKING (AP) _ An American journalist working for a French news agency was expelled from China on Friday, four days after he was ordered out of the country for his reporting on recent student protests.
The news agency, Agence France-Presse, said it was told by the Foreign Ministry that the expulsion of Lawrence MacDonald, 32, was ″already effective.″
Earlier Friday, authorities had ordered MacDonald to appear at a police station and told him to bring his passport.
AFP Peking bureau chief Bernard Degioanni said he and MacDonald’s wife, Hannah Moore, accompanied the reporter, but were not allowed into the station.
Degioanni said minutes later they saw MacDonald being driven off, ″leaving very fast″ in a police car apparently heading toward the airport.
The AFP office in Peking said it was told by the Foreign Ministry that MacDonald was being deported because AFP had ″refused to recall″ the journalist.
Police refused comment and no one answered the phone at the Foreign Ministry. Offices in China were closed Friday for the lunar new year holiday.
The Foreign Ministry has said the State Security Bureau, China’s intelligence agency, was handling the deportation.
AFP was told Monday by the Foreign Ministry to transfer MacDonald from China because of activities incompatible with his status as a journalist during recent student protests.
MacDonald, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., has denied any wrondoing.
The official Xinhua News Agency said a Tianjin University student had been arrested by the State Security Bureau for ″secret collusion″ with MacDonald. It said the student had provided intelligence to the reporter, but gave no details.
MacDonald, who was vacationing in Hong Kong when he was ordered to leave China, returned to Peking on Tuesday with AFP’s Hong Kong-based regional director for Asia and the Pacific, Georges Biannic.
Biannic met with Foreign Ministry officials Wednesday and asked the Chinese to reconsider the decision, but the ministry rejected the appeal and said MacDonald had ″several days″ to leave the country.
AFP protested the expulsion order, saying it was a ″flagrant violation of the most elementary rules of the right to information.″
However, MacDonald reportedly had planned to leave the country on Tuesday.
The actions against MacDonald were a sign of official displeasure with how the Western press covered pro-democracy student demonstrations and the subsequent crackdown on intellectuals accused of espousing Western liberal thought.
MacDonald, one of four AFP correspondents in Peking, is fluent in Chinese and reported extensively about the student unrest. He is the second Western journalist in less than a year to be expelled after being accused of involvement in ″intelligence″ activities.
New York Times correspondent John Burns was deported last July after being held for six days on suspicion of gathering intelligence during a motorcycle trip through a restricted area of central China.