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Politics

Hong Kong photojournalist's arrest in Beijing draws protest

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- A photojournalist of Hong Kong media Now TV News was manhandled and arrested by police while interviewing a civil rights lawyer in Beijing on Wednesday, drawing protest from the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

"We express strong indignation and lodge strong protest against the Beijing authorities," the association said in a statement. "We demand the Beijing authorities...stop any uncivilized acts and suppression against the reporting work of journalists."

The Beijing-based cameraman, identified as Chui Chun-ming, was handcuffed and arrested in Beijing while covering a disciplinary hearing on lawyer Xie Yanyi by the Beijing Lawyers Association.

Xie was among the hundreds of lawyers and paralegals who were persecuted in a country-wide crackdown on civil rights lawyers coined as "709 crackdown" that began in 2015.

In a Now TV video-clip, police interrupted a roadside interview of Xie and demanded reporters show their press passes.

Among them, Chui was seen negotiating with police, who withheld his pass before he was pinned down on the ground, handcuffed and shoved into a police car.

Chui was released hours later, with injuries to his forehead, arms and knees, after he was asked to sign off on a statement saying he overreacted when trying to retrieve his pass and regretted having obstructed officers in the performance of their duties.

"While police held on to my press pass, (Xie) helped grab it from the policeman and gave it to me. Then I was swamped by the police, held down and handcuffed," Chui told Hong Kong reporters after his release from hospital.

"The police insisted I was wrong and needed to confess or risk losing my press pass. I was barred from making phone calls or messaging and lost contact with the outside. I had no choice but to sign the so-called 'repentance' (statement)."

Xie was also roughed up and briefly taken away by police.

Now TV said it is infuriated with how its news team was being treated and expressed strong discontent over the authorities for violating and injuring its cameraman.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung said the government is "very concerned" about Hong Kong reporters' safety in the mainland, but would not comment on whether the violence used in Chui's case was justified.

"We should do whatever we can to assist the reporter concerned and to look into the matter, and also solicit the help of the relevant departments concerned to sort out the matter as quickly as possible," Cheung told reporters.

Chui's case came days after a violent attack against another Hong Kong journalist working in mainland China.

Chan Ho-fai of Cable TV News was attacked by two men in western China's Sichuan Province during his reporting of the 10th anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake Saturday, suffering multiple bodily injuries.

Two men who claimed to be ordinary citizens came forward later that day, apologizing to Chan for the attack. But they were identified by local media as village officials.

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