A Hong Kong video journalist was bloodied, handcuffed and dragged into a van by police in Beijing while trying to cover a hearing involving a human rights lawyer on Wednesday.
Now TV called for the immediate release of its cameraman, Chui Chun-ming, while the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office “mediated” at the request of the local government.
The incident came four days after i-Cable News journalist Chan Ho-fai was kicked and beaten by two men in mainland China’s southwestern Sichuan province while reporting on the 10th anniversary of a deadly earthquake.
In a statement, NowTV expressed anger over the “unreasonable and violent obstruction” of its reporting crew, which it said had been operating within the law.
— RTHK English News (@rthk_enews) May 16, 2018
The station said the cameraman and other crew members were covering a Beijing Lawyers Association hearing that involved human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi at 9am on Wednesday.
At 11am, Chui was taken to hospital by Beijing police, where he was uncuffed and his wound was examined.
According to Now TV, Chui was later released, but a source on site told the Post that police officers were still “accompanying” the journalist.
The Post understands that the hearing was related to Xie’s past work defending Falun Gong practitioners.
Xie was one of the lawyers arrested in the “709 crackdown” that took place in 2015, during which about 300 lawyers and activists were arrested by the Chinese government.
On the Now TV footage, Chui could be seen being held down by at least three men in plain clothes and then handcuffed by two uniformed officers.
A female voice could be heard asking police: “Why are you doing this? On what grounds are you handcuffing him?”
The cameraman was seen bleeding near his left temple before being dragged into a police van in what the station called a “forcible” manner.
A source on site said the Now TV news crew had approached Xie but were stopped by officers.
The crew cooperated with police and gave them their press passes and ID cards, the source said.
For unknown reasons, the officers held on to some of the documents for a long time.
When Chui tried to reason with them and asked for the documents back, the source said, the cameraman was forced to the ground and taken away.
Acting chief executive Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the Hong Kong government was concerned and had followed up on the incident.
“I gather the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council has already been involved in mediating the case and in trying to establish the facts,” Cheung said.
The Hong Kong government’s office in Beijing had also been ordered to follow up on the matter, according to Cheung, who was speaking at the Legislative Council.
Cheung said the government was concerned about the personal safety and freedom of Hong Kong reporters working in mainland China and expected no recurrence of similar incidents.
Hong Kong Journalists Association chairman Chris Yeung Kin-hing said Beijing police had treated Chui in a “violent” and “uncivilised” manner.
“The footage shows the handling was very violent. We condemn the police handling [of the matter] and call for the journalist’s immediate release,” Yeung said.