Thugs beat TV reporters

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The assaults on three TV reporters, who were trying to cover a campus fire in Northeast Jilin Province on Tuesday, once again illustrates the dangers faced by journalists in China.

A security guard attempts to block reporters from a campus fire. Photo:

A security guard attempts to block reporters from a campus fire. Photo:

A fire broke out in a cafeteria at the City College of the Jilin Architectural and Civil Engi-neering Institute around 10:30 am Tuesday. There were no casualties reported in the blaze, according to a report in the City Evening News Thursday.

Local media, including four reporters from Jilin and Changchun TV stations, rushed to the scene, but they were stopped and chased by 50 or so security guards, teachers and students at the gate, reports said. Three of the TV reporters were beaten and taken to the hospital.

"The fire was nearly out when a man, who claimed to be the president, arrived and demanded us to stop shooting. I wanted to film the burned-out building with black stains on it, but a number of security guards rushed out to grab my camera," Wang Maoji, one of the injured reporters from Changchun TV, told the Global Times.

"Suddenly I heard somebody cry 'beat him,' then 40 to 50 people, including security guards, began to chase and hit me," the reporter said in a telephone interview, adding that he hardly had time to react.

Denying the accusation that he had quarreled with the security guards, Wang said that he was beaten because the university didn't want him to cover the incident.

An hour later, a college official surnamed He held a group interview in a meeting room but refused the entry of the four TV journalists, the newspaper said.

The college Thursday denied that it had the journalists beaten, insisting it just wanted to protect their safety.

Wang Caijie, the secretary general of the Jilin Journalists' Association, told the Global Times Thursday that the incident is still under investigation, but she condemned the "barbaric beating."

"Reporters' legitimate interview activities are subject to the protection of law. All reporters in China have the right to interview, report and comment," she said, adding that the incident has been transferred to the local police for further investigation.

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