Alexa

Wang: photographers confused for protesters

Wang: photographers confused for protesters

A high-ranking Beijing Olympic official has defended the detention of two Associated Press photographers, saying security police believed they were part of a group of protesters attempting to hang pro-Tibet banners and flags near an Olympic venue.
The two AP photographers were roughed up by plainclothes security officers early Thursday, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they were questioned before being released. Police confiscated six memory cards from the protests but returned only four.
The incident is the latest in which journalists have been slowed from reporting protests at the games, bringing into question repeated pledges by the International Olympic Committee and Beijing organizers that foreign media would have complete freedom to report.
At Friday's final press briefing of the games, Wang Wei, executive vice president of the organizing committee and games spokesman, said police believed the AP photographers were protesters despite wearing official Olympic credentials.
He said no belongings were taken from the journalists, contradicting their statements.
"Six Tibetan separatists showed the flag of the separatist movement and cried slogans," Wang said. "The police in order to prevent the aggravation of the situation and prevent any possible injuries to the pedestrians took the six separatists to the station for investigation."
"Two were later found to be AP journalists," Wang added. "There was no confiscation of belongings."
A British television journalist was held in a similar incident on Aug. 13. At the time, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the IOC didn't "want to see this happen again."
"It's unfortunate what happened in this incident," Davies said Friday. "Clearly it does appear from the information we have got ... there was some kind of confusion between who was protesting and the media who were within regulations endeavoring to cover that protest."
Wang said some foreign journalists were "biased" about China.
"So many criticisms in this room just reflects how biased some of the media are about China; how little some of the media understand China," Wang said. "The same experience happened when the torch relay was outside China."
He was referring to protests on international legs of the torch relay, which followed deadly rioting in Tibet in March. Both incidents prompted China's communist government to heighten security during the games and expel students and others it deemed to be possible troublemakers.
"History will show how correct the decision of the IOC was in 2001 in awarding the games to China," Wang said.
Wang has been hit during Olympic briefings with repeated questions about Internet censorship, air pollution, jailing of dissidents and human rights in China. Journalists frequently refused to give up a roving microphone in order challenge Wang or Davies with follow-up questions.
The contentious news conferences were held daily in the first week of the games, but canceled altogether last weekend because organizers said everything was running smoothly. They were held three times this week, setting the stage for a news conference this weekend by IOC president Jacques Rogge.