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  • Incident Reports | 28 November, 2008 (17:38)

    Journalist Detained After Reporting On Church

    The Christian Science Monitor correspondent, Peter Ford, was detained and questioned for three hours after the police broke up a house church meeting in Nanyang, Henan province he had been reporting on with his assistant.

    Around 15 people including uniformed and plainclothes police, Religious Affairs Bureau officials and a man who said he was from the Waiban (but offered no identification) raided the house church at around 9.30 in the morning and took Peter and his assistant to the Jin Di Yuan Hotel. In a room there police took his passport and press card details and (they said) checked them against an online data base. Peter was told that he had been attending an “unlawful gathering” and subjected to intermittent questioning by the “Waiban” representative (who behaved more like a policeman) about his motives for being in Nanyang, how he had contacted the house church, what he had talked about with its members, and so on. A Religious Affairs Bureau official took notes of the questions and answers and at one point a photographer took pictures of Peter with the note-taker.

    The questioning was polite, and at no time was Peter asked to hand over his notes or video. He was driven to Nanyang airport in time to catch the plane to Beijing he had intended to take.

    The leader of the house church, Zhang Mingxuan, whom Peter had interviewed at length the day before, had been arrested at around 7.30 that morning. He phoned Peter on Friday evening to say that he and his wife had been held in another hotel until 17.00 and then released even though he had refused to sign a document officially abolishing the “House Church Alliance” he had founded. More than a dozen church members were apparently detained in a local police station until 13.00.