BBC says Chinese police assaulted, arrested its reporter at Shanghai protest

Ed Lawrence was beaten, kicked by police during arrest, says British broadcaster.

BBC says Chinese police assaulted, arrested its reporter at Shanghai protest

BBC reporter Ed Lawrence was assaulted and arrested by Chinese police while covering anti-lockdown protests in Shanghai, the broadcaster said late Sunday.

While he has since been released, BBC voiced concern about the treatment meted out to the journalist, saying he was handcuffed and held in arrest for "several hours" before being released.

"During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist," it said in a statement.

"It is very worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him (saying) that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid from the crowd. We do not consider this a credible explanation," the statement continued.

Lawrence thanked BBC for its "kind words and messages of concern" in a tweet and said: "I understand at least one local national was arrested after trying to stop the police from beating me."

UK's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also condemned the treatment of Chinese officials by calling it "deeply disturbing."

"Media freedom and freedom to protest must be respected. No country is exempt. The arrest of BBC journalist @EP_Lawrence in China is deeply disturbing," Cleverly said on Twitter. "Journalists must be able to do their job without intimidation."

China's Foreign Ministry claimed that Lawrence did not identify himself as a journalist during his arrest.

"Based on what we learned from relevant Shanghai authorities, he did not identify himself as a journalist and did not voluntarily present his press credentials," the ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on Monday.

Zhao added that foreign journalists are "always welcome to work" in the country in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations.

Hüseyin Demir

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