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Stones thrown at German TV crew trying to interview imprisoned dissident's wife; reporter beaten in Wuhan

(RSF/IFEX) - Four journalists with the German TV station ARD had to abandon an attempt to meet Yuan Weijing, the wife of imprisoned lawyer and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, on 24 January 2008. As they approached her home in a village in the eastern province of Shandong, their way was blocked by thugs hired by the local authorities, who threw stones at them.

Reporters Without Borders deplores this latest violation of foreign journalists' rights with less than seven months to go before the Olympic Games.

Yuan had posted an open letter to President Hu Jintao online on 21 January calling for imprisoned activist Hu Jia's release and saying all he did was "tell the entire world what is happing in China." Jia Jianying, the wife of imprisoned dissident He Depu, said: "The authorities should release all imprisoned dissidents before the Olympic Games but instead they are arresting more and more of them. This is completely contrary to the Olympic Spirit."

Hu Jia's wife, Zeng Jinyan, is meanwhile still unable to talk freely to the foreign journalists who try to approach her apartment block. Some 20 police are permanently stationed around her home and prevent anyone from contacting her.

In a separate case, Reporters Without Borders has condemned a physical assault on Xiao Zhou, a reporter on the Hong-Kong based newspaper "Tai Kung Bao", while he was taking photos on 17 January of demonstrations against expulsions in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The journalist was with human rights lawyer Yu Zhenghua when around 30 men, employed by the company carrying out the expulsions, An Jielong, attacked him, raining blows onto his head and dragging him into a stairway.

Police, who were immediately called by the lawyer, delayed arriving on the scene during which time the lawyer's two sons were also mistreated. A police officer told Radio Free Asia that he had insisted on taking the journalist to hospital. He added that he could not arrest the assailants because they had already fled.

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