Shanghai had barred political dissidents from leaving the city and gagged them from speaking to foreign media in action taken surrounding the Olympic Games in August, a human rights group said yesterday. Quoting from a document issued by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said the new rules had been in effect from April 1 and would run until the end of October. The rules include requiring dissidents to stay in Shanghai and banning them from expressing political opinions to overseas media. Shanghai political dissident Huang Xiaoqin, a former member of the banned China Democratic Party, was denied a passport to travel abroad under the rules, the group said. Ahead of the Olympics, the State Council issued new rules that, in principle, grant greater freedom to foreign media, saying journalists need only to obtain prior consent to interview individuals or organisations. But the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said in April that reporting conditions had deteriorated following restrictions on reporting about protests in Tibetan-populated areas. The Public Security Bureau said the latest rules were issued 'for the purpose of strengthening public order during the Beijing Olympics and ensuring the successful conduct of the Olympics'. The centre said the rules applied to 'controlled' people, such as political dissidents, petitioners and members of underground churches. Shanghai police could not be reached for comment late yesterday. Dissidents must voluntarily report to police weekly about their activities, according to the rules. They are barred from assembling in public places to 'stir up trouble'. Police also say protesters are not allowed to disrupt social order by spreading rumours. Such people are also forbidden from storing firearms and explosives in their homes. Ahead of its hosting of the Olympic torch run in May, Shanghai began searching the bags of passengers using the metro and required some companies to sign oaths vowing to protect security. Companies pledged to prevent protests by their employees and were asked to evaluate the 'reliability' of workers. 'The control of contradictions must be 100 per cent to resolutely prevent, due to improper handling, the occurrence of taking to the streets, blocking roads, beating, smashing and looting and other major public order incidents,' read the document.