Sun, Feb 04, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Media watchdog slams Beijing over press crackdown

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , BEIJING

A leading media watchdog group on Friday accused Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) of seeking to bring the media to heel and instigating an expanding crackdown on the press despite China's pledge to enhance media freedoms before the Beijing Olympics next year.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in its annual report on press freedoms that conditions for the news media and for journalists had deteriorated in China.

"The press is being forced into self-censorship, the Internet is filtered and the foreign media very closely watched," the group said in the report, which was released on Friday.

"Faced with burgeoning social unrest and journalists who are becoming much less compliant, the authorities, directed by Hu, have been bringing the media to heel in the name of a `harmonious society,"' it added.

The group cited the five-year sentence given to a Hong Kong reporter, Ching Cheong (程翔), and a three-year sentence for Zhao Yan (趙岩), a researcher in the Beijing bureau of the New York Times, among other efforts to intimidate journalists.

"In both cases they were convicted after shoddy trials with no defense witnesses," the group said.

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