RFA reporter unable to enter China to cover Games

Hong Kong, August 8, 2008–The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that Dhondup Gonsar, an American citizen of Tibetan ethnicity who works for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA), has not yet received press accreditation from Olympic organizers that would allow him to enter China to cover the Olympic Games, which begin Friday.

Gonsar and Radio Free Asia officials in Washington have told CPJ that RFA was informed in writing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July 2007 that RFA had been allocated two sets of press credentials by the IOC, but only received one, for RFA’s Mandarin-service reporter. The RFA Mandarin reporter, Jill Ku Martin, has been allowed to enter the country, RFA officials said.

They said that even though the IOC has said it has passed along Gonsar’s credentials to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, neither have followed through on issuing the Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card that serves as both an identity card and an entry visa.

“We call upon the IOC and China to resolve this issue quickly so that Dhondup Gonsar can travel to Beijing to cover the Games,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.

Gonsar is currently in a hotel in Hong Kong, waiting for his papers to enter China. “The IOC has promised RFA that two of our reporters could cover the Games. I don’t understand why I have not gotten my IOC accreditation and am not allowed to cover the Games,” Gonsar told CPJ. “Maybe it has something to do with my ethnicity as a Tibetan.”