New York, March 10, 2004—Authorities in Beijing interrogated three reporters from the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily newspaper yesterday and then deported them to Hong Kong, according to a spokesman for the paper. Apple Daily is the second-largest Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong.

Early on the morning of March 9, security officials arrived at the journalists’ hotel and brought them in for questioning. The journalists were held for six hours before officials escorted them to the airport and put them on a flight to Hong Kong. The two reporters, surnamed Chan and Ho, and a photographer, whose name was unavailable, were in Beijing to cover the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Apple Daily officials have not provided any further details about the incident, and authorities in China have not said why the journalists were expelled.

Media from Hong Kong are required to apply for permission to report from mainland China. Authorities routinely refuse accreditation for Apple Daily, which frequently publishes reports critical of the Chinese government. According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Chan, Ho, and the photographer did not have proper accreditation to report from China.

“We call on the Chinese government to allow all media to report on the NPC meetings, which are of crucial importance to citizens of both mainland China and Hong Kong,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “By denying Apple Daily journalists the right to report from mainland China, the government is depriving Hong Kong citizens of access to basic information about political and social developments in China.”