DATE: Feb. 10, 2009
LOCATION: Henan Province, Luoyang
TYPE OF INCIDENT: Intimidation of reporter and driver
“We found out our hired driver had been intimidated and frightened into backing out of driving us around.”
DESCRIPTION: We were in Luoyang to cover the drought story. We checked into a hotel, and the front desk called my room asking: a) which media organization I work with, b) that we not leave the city limits. The front desk told me it was the request of local officials. I mentioned the new and permanent media regulations signed by Premier Wen Jiabao, and asked whether local officials were aware of this regulation. I offered to speak directly with local officials should that be necessary. The front desk did not know how to answer, and hung up. Next, we found out our hired driver had been intimidated and frightened into backing out of driving us around. We were able to resolve this by getting in touch with Henan foreign affairs officials and letting them know about the incident. They assured us we were protected under the law and told us to please contact them should we come across any trouble the following day (our shooting day). After hiring another driver, we encountered no problems the rest of our trip.