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China harasses France 24 TV over Tibet documentary

France 24 reporter Cyril Payen
France 24 reporter Cyril Payen DR

China has tried to bully France 24 TV station and harassed its correspondent in Thailand over a report on Tibet, press campaigners say. Diplomats in France lobbied for the report Seven Days in Tibet to be removed from France 24's website and summoned reporter Cyril Payen to the embassy in Bangkok where he lives.

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Payen, who is France 24's French-language correspondent in Thailand, defied a ban on foreign journalists working in Tibet and secretly filmed a documentary that he said showed repression, military occupation and the destruction of Tibetan culture for RFI's sister-station.

Furious Chinese diplomats went to France 24's headquarters to demand the documentary be taken off its website, a request the channel refused to comply with.

When Payen returned to Bangkok, where he has lived for several years, the Chinese embassy asked him to come to a meeting at the embassy as soon as possible.

Payen said he was ready to meet at a hotel but the diplomats insisted on the embassy as venue.

He subsequently received several anonymous calls and a number of text messages.

An audio message from a female member of staff told him to comply with the request or "take the responsibility" for his refusal.

“It is acceptable for an embassy to express its disagreement with a report. But it is completely unacceptable for diplomats stationed in France and Thailand to try to intimidate a news outlet into modifying editorial content, to harangue a journalist and to summon him with the intention of interrogating him," commented press freedom campaign Reporters Without Borders in a statement on Thursday.

"There's nothing more normal for the profession of journalism than to show hidden reality," said the CGT trade union in a leaflet.

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