Media complaint over “spying” in China

International journalists covering the women’s World Cup in China have been forced to complain to Fifa, the football world body, that they have been spied upon while staying in a media hotel, raising serious concerns over official conduct during next year’s Beijing Olympics, when some 20,000 media from around the world are expected to descend on the Chinese capital.

The complaints were filed by German journalists staying at the Sunny Hotel in Hangzhou, where they reported being under scrutiny 24 hours a day.

Departure and return times were clearly being noted by hotel employees on all floors of the 21-storey hotel. Security officers and policemen also kept an eye on the journalists. A clear police presence was visible in and around the hotel with some security officers in riot gear.

Following official representations by Fifa, the monitoring was dropped. According to a report on the AIPS website, no one would comment on behalf of the hotel, which acted without any official consultation with the local organising committee or Fifa.

The president of the Beijing Olympic organising committee, Liu Qi, who is also a member of the the Chinese Communist Party politburo, has said that China is looking forward welcoming journalists from all over the world.

One of the conditions for staging the Games with which the Chinese have had to undertake with the International Olympic Committee is to permit unrestricted reporting during the Games.

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