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Several journalists released after being held overnight; videotapes seized

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrests of several dozen journalists to prevent them from covering a failed coup attempt at a Manila hotel where around 30 soldiers had demanded the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo on 29 November 2007.

The journalists were taken, their hands bound, to the National Capital Region Police Office in Bicutan, south-east of the capital. Police said they had arrested 17 members of the press, four of whom work for foreign news agencies.

They were released overnight without charge after being questioned for "obstruction of justice". Police said it had been necessary to check that none of the rebels had escaped by hiding among the journalists.

Interior minister, Ronaldo Purno, said that "the journalists had been well-treated but they had not complied when police told them to leave the scene [of the aborted coup]". The journalists were taken to be questioned "to determine whether or not they had obstructed justice deliberately", he added.

A correspondent for Philippines ABS-CBN television told Agence France-Presse that seven members of its crew had been arrested and their films seized. The foreign press association said that at least seven of its members had been placed in custody. Two highly popular television presenters, Pinky Webb and Ces Drilon, were also arrested.

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