New York, March 4, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Chinese authorities to bring criminal charges against assailants who attacked a German TV crew in the city of Sanhe, approximately 30 miles east of Beijing.
On Wednesday, unidentified men in at least four cars chased a minivan carrying journalists working for the German public broadcaster ARD, according to news reports citing ARD correspondent Christine Adelhardt, who was in the vehicle at the time. The men rammed the car, forcing it to stop, then began attacking it with bats, the reports said.
Reports said that two police officers initially stood by and did nothing to help the TV crew. Several other police officers then arrived on the scene and restrained the attackers. Police escorted the journalists to a local station and held them for questioning for 16 hours, the reports said. No serious injuries were reported.
"Since the police initially stood by and watched the TV crew get beaten with bats, it shouldn't be too difficult to identify the attackers," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The authorities cannot let such an outrage go unpunished. They must bring the perpetrators to justice in order to send a signal that such behavior will not be tolerated."
Adelhardt told journalists that the crew had been filming a report on urbanization in a local village. A police officer later suggested that the men had attacked the journalists because they had filmed in the village without obtaining permission first, news reports said. Permits are not required to film in public in China. Reports also cited one witness who said that one of the vehicles involved in the attack belonged to the chief of the local Communist Party.
News accounts did not immediately report whether any of the attackers were arrested. Adelhardt told journalists that she saw several of the assailants at the police station, but was not sure whether they had been detained.
News accounts reported that the German Foreign Office had taken up the matter with Chinese authorities. The Chinese foreign ministry has announced that an investigation is under way, reports said.
- For more data and analysis on China, visit CPJ's Attacks on the Press.