In light of the report below, the FCCC recommends that correspondents working in Guizhou take special precautions to protect themselves and their equipment.
Der Spiegel correspondent Bernhard Zand and his Chinese assistant were reporting at the end of last month on the case of the five boys who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Bijie, Guizhou. In the course of their work they met the journalist who had first broken this story and who had then disappeared for several weeks, Li Yuanlong.
They were followed throughout their stay in Bijie by unidentified men. On the evening of Dec. 29th they checked into the Kempinski Hotel in Guiyang. When they returned from supper to their rooms they found that Bernhard’s tablet computer and an iPhone had been destroyed by submersion in water (they were still wet), all the photos on an SD memory card in his computer had been deleted, and a large number of files had been deleted from his laptop. Most of the files on his assistant’s laptop, in the next-door room, had also been deleted.
Bernhard filed a complaint the next morning with the local police, but their investigations have not yet uncovered the culprits. The Kempinski Hotel’s security chief said the CCTV cameras with a clear view of the doors to the two rooms in question had not recorded any pictures at the relevant time, and hotel staff said that the hotel does not keep logs of guestrooms’ electronic door locks.
We advise correspondents to keep all their computers, cameras and phones with them whenever possible to avoid a repetition of this sort of gross interference in their work.
The FCCC board