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Protesters, journalist detained in Beijing

  • Story Highlights
  • Activists unfurled banners saying "Free Tibet," "Tibetans Are Dying for Freedom"
  • ITN journalist also detained by police in Beijing, released 30 minutes later
  • Journalist says he was covering protest, police "manhandled" him
  • Since Olympics started, 36 people with Students for a Free Tibet have been detained
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- A British journalist and eight Tibet activists were detained during a protest near an Olympic venue Wednesday, the journalist and an activist group said.

The activists unfurled banners that said "Free Tibet" and "Tibetans Are Dying for Freedom" at a cultural museum, said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, the group that coordinated the protest.

A British journalist, John Ray of ITN, said he was detained for about 30 minutes.

Police in Beijing confirmed that eight foreign nationals were detained for "illegal activities," but they did not address questions about Ray.

The journalist said he was running to cover the protest when security guards caught him and forced him from the park even as he said "I am a British journalist" in English and Chinese.

Ray said police "manhandled" him into a restaurant, where they yanked off his shoes and held him down. He said they would not let him put his hands in his pocket to show them his media credentials.

With no shoes on, Ray said, he "tried to make a break for it" but was tripped and thrown into the back of a van, where an officer asked his views on Tibet. Ray said he told the officer that he was a journalist and did not have views on Tibet.

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Later, he said, when a colleague asked police why Ray had been detained, an officer asked, "Did you not see him trying to unfurl a banner?"

Ray insisted that he went to the park strictly in his capacity as a journalist and took no part in the protest. He has worked for ITN for eight years and has been the network's correspondent in China since 2006.

Police in Beijing said in a statement that eight foreign nationals were detained while conducting illegal activities about 12:20 p.m.

The Chinese government plans to deport the eight: seven who are from the United States and one from Japan, police said.

Students for a Free Tibet is a group based in New York that seeks to help Tibetans achieve "freedom and independence" from China.

Since the Summer Olympic Games started, 36 demonstrators with Students for a Free Tibet have been detained, Tethong said, including the eight who were detained Wednesday. The other 28 protesters were deported after being held for a maximum of 30 hours, she said.

Douglas Herman of New York, a Tibet activist who saw the protests, said several demonstrators with "Free Tibet" T-shirts chained their bicycles together in front of an entrance to the cultural display and waved the Tibetan national flag.


Security guards materialized within seconds.

"The flag that they had, that was taken away immediately," he said.

CNN's John Vause and Yuli Yang contributed to this report.

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