Police in Shanghai Briefly Detain U.S. TV Crew With AM-China, Bjt
SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ Police in Shanghai detained a crew from ABC News as it tried to photograph a family watching China’s evening TV news, a correspondent for the U.S. network said Tuesday.
″It was like a scene from a bad Gestapo movie,″ said ABC News correspondent Mark Litke.
He said two uniformed police and three plainclothesmen burst in on the crew without warning Monday night.
″They swept aside a curtain and were confronted by us with our camera, two big lights, a mike man with a boom,″ Litke said. ″They looked very surprised.″
The three-member crew and its government-assigned interpreter were held for about 2 1/2 hours, Litke said, adding that the Chinese family was not arrested and no videotape was confiscated. More than 50 foreign journalists are in Shanghai, China’s largest city, covering events in the aftermath of the June 3-4 shootings of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.
The largest demonstration in the country since the Beijing crackdown drew 50,000 people in Shanghai on Friday, but with the highly publicized arrests of labor leaders and some students over the weekend, protesters have disappeared from Shanghai’s streets.
Litke said police who detained the ABC crew ″were very cordial, but they would not let us leave. The family looked a mixture of nervous, frightened and sad.″
The police took away the ABC interpreter for about two hours and told him that ″we were all on tourist visas and breaking the rules, and if we wanted to work we must get permission from Beijing,″ said Litke, who is based in Hong Kong.
″They told him if we continued working here then we would be going down a ’dangerous path,‴ Litke said. ″They never ordered us out, but when our translator suggested we might leave today, they said that would be a very good idea.″ He said he would leave for Hong Kong later Tuesday.
On Saturday, British TV journalist Peter Newport was expelled from China.
Newport, of Britain’s Independent Television News, was detained as he photographed a protest by about 200 students in front of Shanghai police headquarters.
Newport has been the only foreign journalist expelled during the current crisis in China, although reporters have been warned in Beijing and Shanghai that they cannot engage in news gathering without explicit permission from central or local authorities.
U.S. diplomats in Shanghai were prepared to protest the ABC incident, but did not because the Americans were not arrested or expelled, said William Palmer, a spokesman at the U.S. Consulate.
The Chinese ″are obviously watching very closely,″ Palmer said, with several journalists reporting being followed.
Only about 100 Americans remain in Shanghai and in the neighboring provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, Palmer said.
″We’re still advising Americans to leave. We don’t think its advisable to stay in Shanghai,″ Palmer said.
Also on Tuesday, the British Consulate said it has not received word from Chinese officials concerning Yao Yongzhan, a student from Hong Kong at Shanghai’s Fudan University.
Yao was with British students and two officials from the British Consulate when he was detained Sunday on grounds he had not registered with security authorities and was in possession of what the Chinese press called ″contraband materials.″
British Consul Ian Orr had not been able to meet with officials of China’s Foreign Ministry to discuss Yao’s case, said Vice Consul Ian Cormack.
In London, the Foreign Office said it had told China’s top diplomat in Britain that Yao ″should be immediately returned to Hong Kong. Any maltreatment by the Chinese authorities of the Hong Kong Chinese would have the most damaging impact in confidence in Hong Kong.″
Hong Kong, a British colony, is to revert to Chinese rule in 1997.