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U.S. condemns Chinese harassment

Feb. 28, 2011 at 5:32 PM

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. ambassador to China condemned Chinese officials allegedly responsible for "harassing and assaulting" journalists covering a planned protest.

Ambassador Jon Huntsman Monday criticized the violence employed by Chinese security officers against foreign journalists assembled to report a planned anti-government protest, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Nine foreign journalists were beaten and 16 detained after they converged in a Beijing shopping area Sunday to cover a planned demonstration, for which many had received an anonymous online tip.

An unidentified American journalist was kicked and punched resulting in a broken rib.

Huntsman met Monday with several of the reporters detained by police.

"I call on the Chinese government to hold the perpetrators accountable for harassing and assaulting innocent individuals and ask that they respect the rights of foreign journalists to report in China," Huntsman said. "I also urge China to respect internationally recognized conventions that guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression."

At the time of the planned protest, there were few demonstrators but Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street was lined with uniformed police and security personnel, some dressed in plain clothes, others dressed as street cleaners, the newspaper said.

Some foreign reporters based in Beijing and Shanghai have been warned by local police they might have problems with their visas if they report on the planned protests, the newspaper said.

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