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Four state television journalists held in Seoul police station

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of four journalists and union activists employed by state-owned television news channel YTN. The press freedom organisation has spoken to one of them in the Seoul police station where they have been held since their arrest on 22 March 2009 for staging a peaceful sit-in in the office of YTN's director-general.

"Level-headed, tolerant authorities do not arrest journalists for staging a peaceful demonstration in defense of their news media's editorial independence," Reporters Without Borders said. "The TV station's management has every right to file a complaint but the arrest of the journalists is completely disproportionate."

Arrested at their homes on 22 March, the four journalists are being held at Seoul's Namdaemun police station pending a court hearing on 26 March to address a complaint by the YTN management accusing them of obstructing the station's operations. Two of the journalists have already been fired by YTN.

Reporters Without Borders talked to Jong-Myun Roh, the head of the YTN journalists' union, at the police station. He said their arrests were designed to crush the journalists' protests against the appointment of a new YTN director-general, who is a close associate of President Lee Myung-bak. "We are non-violent and for dialogue, but the police keep interrogating me about the union's strategy and the violence of the journalists' union," he said.

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