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Police accuse reporters of attempting to "burglarise" Chief Executive's office

(HKJA/IFEX) - 15 August 2011 - The Hong Kong Government appears determined to pursue its campaign of terror against journalists. On 11 August 2011, the police, previously well-disposed towards newsmen, arrested three reporters in the Chief Executive's Office within the new administration complex allegedly for "attempted burglary".

The reporters - from "Ming Pao", "Sing Tao" and "Capital Weekly" - had registered at the reception office and had been issued with proper passes by the security guards.

Once inside they were accosted by police officers who asked how they had "sneaked" into the complex. After some moments the police arrested the trio for "attempted burglary".

The police claimed the security passes held by the reporters were "suspected invalid guest passes."

This is simply preposterous because those passes were issued by the reception office.

The charge that the reporters were attempting to burglarize the premises is even more outrageous. No materials were found to have been stolen and the reporters had identified themselves.

All three were subsequently released and the charge was cancelled.

This bizarre episode comes on the heels of the 1 July incident in which police wantonly pepper-sprayed 19 journalists and arrested an intern reporter covering the annual demonstration against the government.

In all these instances the reporters identified themselves, and carried press cards or camcorders with their station logos prominently displayed. Yet all were treated as if they were enemies of the state.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association has no doubt that these repressive measures are part of a grand design to bring the city's media under control. In this they are undoubtedly succeeding, as the increasingly sanitized media-fare shows.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association hopes that international organisations will draw attention to the plight of Hong Kong journalists and the city's media, and that they will raise an outcry against the suffocation of press freedom in a very important corner of China.

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