Three French journalists physically attacked for trying to approach human rights lawyer

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

image16 February 2011

Several foreign journalists have reported being forcibly turned back by thugs in the past few days when trying to approach the home of Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught human rights lawyer who is under house arrest in Dongshigu, a village in the eastern province of Shandong.

Three French journalists – Brice Pedroletti of Le Monde, Stéphane Lagarde of Radio France Internationale and Ursula Gauthier of Le Nouvel Observateur – said they tried to visit Chen yesterday but were violently pushed away by “a dozen well-built men” who identified themselves as members of the village’s “law and order brigade.” The men tried to confiscate and break some of the journalists’ equipment.

On 14 February, two New York Times journalists trying to visit Chen were reportedly forced to get out their vehicle and had some of their equipment broken.
Reporters Without Borders condemns these acts of violence against journalists and the forced isolation in which the authorities have been keeping Chen since his release from prison on 9 September 2010. The government must put an immediate stop to this illegal persecution of Chen, his relatives and supporters, the press freedom organization said.
Arrested on 21 June 2006 for investigating allegations of forced abortions and sterilization, Chen was sentenced in August of the same year to four years and three months in prison. After serving the entire jail term and being mistreated while in prison, he was placed under house arrest on his release.
He and his wife were beaten last week for secretly making a video, posted online on 9 February, about the way they are being kept under constant surveillance.

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