Police barred filming, then detained a three-person crew from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for three hours after the journalists attempted to report from outside the barricaded grounds of the Juyuan middle school, where many students died in the May 12 earthquake.
A journalist, cameraman and local producer were attempting to film outside the school when police who were blocking access to the school told them to stop filming and asked for their passports. The group was not carrying their passports and had been unable to get new press credentials issued by Sichuan provincial authorities for the earthquake zone. They were told to wait for a superior officer at the scene, and when they attempted to leave the school after about an hour, were taken to the local police station for questioning.
ABC journalist Stephen McDonell said the police rejected their assertions about the new Olympics reporting rules, telling the journalists that those were “legislative rules” from Beijing, but that the Communist Party offices in Chengdu had to issue separate press cards for earthquake areas. The Chengdu office, McDonell said, told ABC that June press cards were not yet available.
The team was also warned not to try to enter so-called “traffic control” areas, which, they were told, apply not only to cars but also to unsanctioned parties traveling by foot or other means. After writing a self-criticism and promising to follow the rules, the team was released.