China: journalists arrested and detained by police
NUJ condemns decision by Chinese authorities and calls for the safety and protection of journalists throughout the country.
The National Union of Journalists has joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in condemning the arrests of Ed Lawrence and Michael Peuker on 27 November.
Both journalists were arrested while covering anti-lockdown demonstrations taking place in Shanghai, amid China’s zero-covid mitigation strategy. BBC journalist Lawrence was handcuffed by at least five officers and assaulted by police, and Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) reporter Peuker was arrested alongside an RTS cameraman.
Although the journalists have since been released and had equipment returned, Chinese officials have claimed Lawrence’s arrest was in his interest, reducing his risk of contracting covid-19.
Zhao Likian, a foreign ministry spokesman stated “according to authorities in Shanghai the journalist in question did not reveal his journalist identity at the time, he did not openly show his foreign press card.”
The IFJ has detailed restrictions on press freedom under Beijing’s National Security law, and has been monitoring the destruction of independent journalism in recent years. The NUJ is urging Chinese authorities to respect the right of journalists to carry out their roles without interference or fear of arrest.
Read more in "The story that won’t be silenced: Hong Kong Freedom of Expression Report 2022."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“The arrests and detention of Ed and Michael are sadly all too familiar to journalists reporting in China. Without a commitment from the Chinese government for journalists to be respected, attacks against those reporting on issues including covid-19 and beyond, will remain commonplace.
“The NUJ will continue to work closely with the IFJ and sister unions to do all it can to support colleagues and stand in solidarity, opposing restrictions in China that continue to threaten press freedom.”
The IFJ said:
“The targeting of foreign journalists for reporting on issues in the public interest is yet another serious attack on press freedom in China, where media workers frequently fall victim to violence, detainment, and harassment from authorities.