An Al-Jazeera television team was detained in a village in Anhui province, about an hour outside of Hefei. Melissa Chan says the team had been interviewing a young farm girl for a “very benign story on the life of a little girl.” She says local officials stopped the team and “insisted we ‘lunch’ with them.”
The reporters said they had to get a plane back to Beijing. The officials persisted, and brought the Al-Jazeera team in for “a cup of tea.” Chan reports: “Tea dragged on for an hour, and then we discovered they had dragged the farmer we had spoken to, to the police station. The situation escalated, with us insisting they let him go before we leave. We then told them we’d go to the police station ourselves, at which point officials locked the gates so we could not leave the premises.”
The team was detained for about three hours, with no explanation. When the correspondents showed the officials a copy of the reporting regulations, the officials said they were aware of the new rules. Chan says the Al-Jazeera team ended up calling the Foreign Ministry in Beijing for help and, “to their credit”, officials there made the relevant calls to get the team released.