A reporter and a freelancer for Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. government-funded international radio broadcaster, were released unharmed after about six hours of detention by Chinese police, VOA said.

VOA reporter Feng Yibing and freelance reporter Allen Ai had been taken into custody on Aug. 13 while interviewing Sun Wenguang—a retired Chinese professor who himself was arrested during a live phone interview with VOA earlier this month—outside Sun’s apartment in Jinan City, Shandong Province.

The professor, who has been detained by authorities in the past after making comments critical of the Chinese regime, was speaking about his detention over the past two weeks through the door of his home, as he is under house arrest, VOA reported. Police stationed inside the apartment building interrupted the interview and took the reporters away in separate cars.

“It is outrageous that two journalists have been detained for nothing more than doing their jobs,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said in the report. “It’s the job of journalists to find out what’s going on, to talk to people in the news, and that is all that they were doing.”

She added that “this is not the first time we’ve had some issues with China and our journalists.”

The police barged into Sun’s home and he was taken away on Aug. 1, during a live interview by VOA about China’s tactics in African nations, known as “dollar diplomacy.” The term is used to describe Beijing’s strategy of gaining alliances by giving large sums in loans and investments to foreign countries in an effort to jockey for geopolitical influence.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told VOA that the detention of the two journalists was “brazenly heavy-handed, even by China’s low standards for press freedom” and called for the Trump administration to “reduce the U.S. footprint of Chinese government-controlled media” if something like this happens again.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department urged the Chinese regime to allow freedom of the press and of speech.

“We strongly condemn China’s worsening abuse of human rights, in particular the suppression of the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and the unlawful detention of activists, lawyers, journalists, and civil-society leaders seeking to defend those freedoms,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA.

Press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, “The international community must not tolerate any more such blatant attacks on the freedom to inform.”

Teng Biao, a Chinese human-rights lawyer and visiting scholar at New York University’s U.S.–Asia Law Institute, commented on the incident to VOA. “The CCP’s clamping down on freedom of speech targets not only domestic media; it has also been extended to foreign media and foreign nationals,” Teng said.

Source: The Epoch Times

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