Beijing police claim Hong Kong journalist they dragged away resisted their authority and behaved ‘inappropriately’
Now TV cameraman Chui Chun-ming was at the hearing of a human rights lawyer when he was handcuffed and dragged into a police van while bleeding
Beijing’s law enforcement authority on Friday insisted the Hong Kong video journalist who was handcuffed and dragged into a police van while bleeding had resisted officers and inappropriately grabbed his press cards, releasing a statement and video clip to support their claim.
This drew a swift response from Now TV, the employer of cameraman Chui Chun-ming, criticising the officers for using “excessive force” against its staff member.
Now TV had earlier released its own footage of what transpired when Chui and his colleagues were covering a Beijing Lawyers Association hearing on Wednesday that involved human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi.
The 46-second video released by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau on Friday starts with Chui telling officers that he had cooperated with them when they checked his press credentials. He then asks where they have kept his cards.
The footage shows the officer holding the cards, and when Chui tries to grab them, the other officers stop him, resulting in a struggle. Chui is then held down by at least three men in plain clothes. The video stops there.
The bureau’s statement said officers from the Dongcheng branch were conducting identity checks on Wednesday morning but two men resisted and grabbed cards from the officer’s hands.
The statement did not name the second man, but other Hong Kong media reported it was Xie.
“Police acted according to the law and took the pair away,” the statement read. “One of the men sustained scratches while we were carrying out enforcement work. We immediately sent him to hospital for treatment.”
“The man was later confirmed to be a Hong Kong journalist and admitted to inappropriate behaviour. He left after being criticised and educated by police.”
It added that the authority respected media organisations that conducted normal reporting and would protect their rights.
In its rebuttal to the bureau, Now TV stressed that Chui had cooperated with officers and showed his press card twice.
“He tried to get back the card but failed. There was no physical contact,” it said.
“The footage we published on May 16 is the complete and unedited version. The company cannot accept law enforcers using excessive force to suppress journalists.”
Beijing police release Hong Kong journalist after he was detained covering hearing of human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi
Speaking to Hong Kong media after his release on Wednesday, Chui said he was made to sign a “statement of repentance” that claimed he had tried to “grab” his press pass from an officer.
Although he initially refused to sign the statement, Chui said he “had no choice” but to do so, as he was not allowed to make contact with his company at the time.
On Friday, Hong Kong’s justice minister Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah described the assault as “very strange” and said she hoped the cameraman was recovering and had “calmed down”.
“It is quite hard for me to understand why this incident has happened,” Cheng said. “We are concerned … and have already conveyed our concerns to the related authority.”
The incident came four days after i-Cable News journalist Chan Ho-fai was kicked and beaten by two men in China’s southwestern Sichuan province while reporting on the 10th anniversary of a deadly earthquake.