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Police ask journalists for information on protest, photographs of demonstrators

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Call for Taiwan Police to Stop Pressuring Media for Protest Information

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges Taiwan's National Police Agency (NPA) to stop asking media personnel for information about protesters at a recent public demonstration.

According to the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ), an IFJ affiliate, members of the Taiwan police have reportedly asked media workers to provide photographs of demonstrators who participated in the "Yellow Ribbon Siege" protest against a meeting between Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chen Yunlin on November 16. The protest was reportedly organised by the Democratic Progressive Political Party.

The ATJ said there were concerns that police would seek to pressure photojournalists who refused the request for information by approaching their employers.

"The police have put the reporters in grave danger by demanding that they rat on their interviewees," ATJ president Leon Chuang said.

On November 18, Leon Chuang and several reporters requested a meeting with NPA Director-General Wang Cho-chun to resolve the issue, but the request was declined.

"The duty of a journalist is to report the truth and to protect his or her sources. Journalists must not be compelled to act as agents to collect information on behalf of government authorities. Police interference of this kind places freedom of the independent press in jeopardy," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"The IFJ urges Taiwan's authorities to respect press freedom and ensure that they do not compromise journalists' integrity. All media outlets are also urged to defend press freedom and refrain from handing over photographs."

Increasing police pressure on Taiwan's media has been reported since early November. An independent documentary film-maker was detained by police while she was filming Chen in a hotel on November 4. In a separate incident, a television reporter was assaulted by police who reportedly mistook him for a protester during the November 16 rally.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

For further information on the detention of the documentary filmmaker, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98158

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