Police officers attack international journalists at sporting event

New York, August 20, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal attack by Chinese police officers on Han Guan Ng, a photographer with The Associated Press, and the harassment of Frederic Brown, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, at the Asian Cup soccer final on August 7.

Brown and Ng were covering the match and its aftermath in Beijing when plainclothes police officers beat Ng in the head with a baton, kicked him and destroyed his camera equipment, according to local sources and international news reports.

An unruly crowd of soccer fans had gathered outside of Beijing’s Workers Stadium after China’s loss to Japan in the final. Some people in the crowd chanted anti-Japanese slogans, threw bottles, and clashed with police, according to international news reports.

As uniformed and plainclothes police pushed back the crowd, Ng shot pictures of a police officer shoving Agence France-Presse photographer Frederic Brown. The officer saw Ng taking pictures and came after him, according to Ng. The journalists were 50 yards behind the riot line when one plainclothes officer beat Ng with a baton, and at least two others kicked him while he lay on the ground.

The gash in Ng’s head required eight stitches, Ng said, and his hand was injured in the attack.

During the attack, Ng identified himself to the police as an AP journalist, and Brown was wearing a vest identifying himself as press, according to the journalists.

“Han Guan Ng and Frederic Brown were doing nothing more than fulfilling their duties as journalists when they were attacked,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “Especially in the context of a sporting event, it is disturbing that law enforcement officers for the host city of the 2008 Olympics have shown such brutal disregard for press freedom.”