Tue, May 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

`Next' reporters from SARS hospital now in isolation

HOT NEWS The tabloid magazine employees were found attempting to file reports from Hoping Hospital with a camera and notebook computers

CNA , TAIPEI

Two Next magazine employees who had reported from inside Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital after it was quarantined because of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) were sent to Keelung River Public Housing Complex in Taipei yesterday for a 14-day quarantine period, said a Taipei City Government official.

On Sunday, officials had said the pair would be quarantined in the Hungwu military barracks.

The two journalists stayed in Hoping Hospital after it was sealed off nearly two weeks ago pretending to be patients or relatives and they filed reports from the hospital.

A camera and two notebook computers belonging to the pair -- a male cameraman and a female reporter -- were confiscated, said Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇), director of the Taipei City Information Department.

As for the pair's actions, it remains to be seen how the two will be judged according to news ethics or principles of self-discipline, Wu said.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that whether the pair violated any law by remaining in a quarantined hospital during a national health crisis would have to be decided by the judiciary, but they would have to quarantined for their safety and that of all other citizens.

Pei Wei (斐偉), Next's editor in chief, said on Sunday that the two reporters had not violated any quarantine rules in their reporting.

Pei criticized that the city government's handling of the pair, including confiscating their belonging and threatening a lawsuit. Pei said the city's actions violated the the principle of press freedom.

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