France raps 'intimidation' of foreign press in China

17th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

France on Thursday deplored the "acts of intimidation" suffered by foreign correspondents in China who were blocked from interviewing prominent human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

Several foreign reporters were roughed up this week by aggressive mobs, believed to be organised by local police, as they sought to visit blind activist Chen in his village in eastern China's Shandong province.

Journalists from French news outlets such as Le Monde, Le Nouvel Observateur and Radio France Internationale, and from CNN and the New York Times were among those who reported rough treatment.

"France deplores the acts of intimidation that they (journalists) were subjected to," said deputy foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages.

"France reiterates journalists' right to exercise their profession freely," Fages told reporters.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who gained world attention by exposing abuses in the "one-child" population control policy, has been under house arrest since completing a jail term of more than four years in September.

He re-emerged into the human rights spotlight last week with the release of a daring video smuggled from his home in which he railed against his "illegal" detention and the "hooligan methods" of local authorities.

China on Thursday acknowledged that foreign journalists were blocked from interviewing Chen but stopped short of condemning the rough tactics used to thwart their work.

© 2011 AFP

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