Wed, Nov 09, 2005 - Page 4 News List

China deports two Hong Kong journalists

AFP , HONG KONG

Two Hong Kong journalists have been deported from China after being roughed up by security officials while trying to interview an aide to the late ousted leader Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), a report said yesterday.

The Cable TV journalists were violently dragged into a car by public security bureau officers as they spoke to Lin Mu (林牧), a secretary to Hu. The former Communist Party chief was purged in 1987 for failing to quell pro-democracy protests.

"I met up with them -- security personnel stopped them and asked, `Are you Hong Kong reporters?' They said, `Yes.' And security personnel prevented them from proceeding any farther," Lin, 78, told Radio Free Asia. "Security personnel ... dragged them into a car. I don't know their whereabouts. And they never called me again."

The report said the two newsmen -- one was named as reporter Hu Lihan and the other was his cameraman -- were deported to Hong Kong.

Cable TV refused to comment and a staff member at the news organization said Hu Lihan was not available for comment.

There is growing concern for the safety of Hong Kong reporters working on the mainland following the arrest in April of Ching Cheong (程翔), a Hong Kong resident. He could face the death sentence after being charged with spying while working for the Straits Times.

Chinese authorities have given Ching's family only limited access to him and human-rights organizations are concerned that he is unlikely to be given a fair and open trial.

He is believed to have been arrested while researching an article about Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), the late premier, who was purged for opposing the bloody 1989 massacre of pro-democracy protesters around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Admirers of Hu Yaobang have been urging authorities to honor the 90th anniversary of his birth on Nov. 20. However, there is little expectation the government will allow a commemoration that could generate public sympathy for him.

Lo King-wah (盧敬華), the Hong Kong Journalist's Association's spokesman on press freedom, said the territory's reporters faced increasing risks on the mainland.

"It's an administrative nightmare getting permission to report in China and so many reporters have to go there without proper clearance -- that exposes them to the risk of arrest," Lo said. "Even when you work there legally, you still face dangers if you speak to people the authorities don't want you to speak to."

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