Officials in Ningxia demanded that two correspondents – one French, one Danish – register with authorities before interviewing an imam, after the journalists were told by foreign affairs offices in Shanghai and Ningxia that due to new Olympics reporting rules, the offices could not issue reporting permits.
Plainclothes officers met the journalists at their pre-appointed interview at a mosque, first claiming to be relatives of the Imam whom the media had contacted. The officers obstructed the interview, only later revealing their true identities. After 30 minutes, one of the journalists asked an officer to call the Ningxia foreign affairs office to clarify if the reporters had the right to be in the area. The journalists were asked to register with police.
When the media arrived at the police station, they found officers reading the Olympics reporting rules. The journalists were required to register; the police refused to provide their identification. After the media returned to meet the imam, police called him five times during the hour-long interview, demanding to know what questions the reporters were asking.
“We have been told we can go freely anywhere, but it’s not true,” said Caroline Dijkhuis of the French newspaper 20 minutes.