HONG KONG — A cameraman from a Hong Kong news station was roughed up and detained by the police in Beijing while trying to cover a human rights lawyer’s disciplinary hearing, the Hong Kong news media reported.
Video footage shows uniformed police officers and men in plain clothes wrestling Chui Chun-ming, a cameraman for Now TV News, to the ground before handcuffing him and forcing him into a police car, his forehead bleeding.
Mr. Chui and another Now TV journalist were covering a hearing for Xie Yanyi, a prominent rights lawyer. Mr. Xie was among the first detained in China’s broad crackdown on human rights lawyers in 2015. He was later released, but has now been accused of “conduct violations” that could result in his losing the right to practice law.
Police officers showed up on Wednesday morning to check the identification of reporters who were interviewing Mr. Xie before the hearing. Mr. Xie’s wife, Yuan Shanshan, told the Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK that the officers tackled Mr. Chui to the ground after he demanded that his ID be returned.
The police held Mr. Chui for a few hours before releasing him to seek treatment at a hospital. He told RTHK that he had been asked to sign a “note of remorse” before being freed; he said he did so because he was uneasy about his confiscated ID and the officers’ aggressive behavior.
“We are extremely angry about the unjustified and brutal obstruction that resulted from a legal interview,” Now TV said in an article about the episode.
Ms. Yuan, the rights lawyer’s wife, said he had also been roughly handled by the police and forced into a police car after asking officers to return Mr. Chui’s ID. She said marks were left on his neck. After Mr. Xie’s hearing, the couple were not allowed to photocopy documents from it.
“They want this hearing to occur in secret,” she told RTHK.
Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International, said that the officers’ behavior was likely a response to unwanted media attention at the hearing. “It shows that the authorities are very much aware that the hearing itself isn’t a fair one,” he said.
The incident came just days after another journalist for a Hong Kong television station, Chen Ho-fai, was assaulted in mainland China while covering a politically sensitive event. Mr. Chen of i-Cable was kicked and beaten by two men while reporting on the 10th anniversary of the earthquake in Sichuan Province that killed tens of thousands of people. Shoddy building standards may have contributed to the toll, making it a delicate subject for China.
After Hong Kong officials and journalism organizations complained about the assault on Mr. Chen, the provincial authorities presented two men at a news conference who took responsibility for it and apologized, according to The South China Morning Post. They said that coverage of the quake’s anniversary would “open old wounds.”
“We are very concerned about the safety of our journalists as they are reporting,” Hong Kong’s chief secretary for administration, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said in a news conference after the attack on Mr. Chui. He said Wednesday that the government of Hong Kong, a semiautonomous former British colony, had been in contact with the mainland authorities about the episode involving Mr. Chui.
Follow Tiffany May on Twitter: nytmay.