Governor refuses to apologise for taking journalist's recorder

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 March, 2010, 12:00am

The governor who came under fire for confiscating a reporter's digital recorder has refused to apologise, saying he suspected she was not a real journalist.

Hubei governor Li Hongzhong found himself at the centre of a media and internet storm this week after a verbal clash with mainland reporters on Sunday.

The governor, who was previously Shenzhen party secretary, responded angrily when a Beijing Times reporter asked him to comment on the case of Deng Yujiao , the Hubei masseuse who last year stabbed to death an official who was trying to rape her.

Li demanded to know what paper the reporter worked for, and then ordered his staff to confiscate her digital recorder.

A recording of the incident was posted on the internet, resulting in accusations from the online community that the governor was interfering with press freedom.

Speaking to mainland reporters on Wednesday, he said his actions had been justified by suspicions that the reporter was from 'some other unit' rather than a journalist, China National Radio reported yesterday.

'We worried that she was not a reporter, so we took away her dictaphone ... for a look, to see what content [was on it],' Li said.

The reporter, Liu Jie, had initially told Li she worked for the People's Daily, her paper's parent company.

'I asked her, 'Are you from the People's Daily?' and she just hummed and hawed without giving another answer,' Li said.

'Perhaps she thought the correct way to refer to the Beijing Times was to say the People's Daily, but that's not so good.'

Asked whether he would issue an apology, Li said it was 'irrelevant'.

China National Radio said that when a reporter first asked Li if he was going to apologise, another mainland journalist was heard to mutter: 'How can you ask such a question?'