(VOA News) – Chinese authorities detained a Voice of America Mandarin Service correspondent and a multimedia journalist working for VOA for at least six hours Monday evening. The two journalists were taken into custody as they attempted to interview a retired Chinese professor who was taken away by police during a live television interview with VOA nearly two weeks ago.
Correspondent Yibing Feng and VOA contractor Allen Ai were taken into custody in Jinan, Shandong province after talking to professor Sun Wenguang, 84, through the closed door of his apartment. Sun told Feng details of his detention and thanked VOA for allowing him to express his freedom of speech on the air.
Police who were in the apartment building attempted to interrupt the interview and then separately detained both reporters. The VOA reporters said they were taken in separate vehicles to undisclosed locations on the university campus by men who identified themselves as contract security guards. They were freed before dawn Tuesday unharmed.
“I was just released from the hands of secret police in Jinan, with all my cell phones destroyed by them,” Feng wrote in an email to his editor. “They separated Allen from me during these hours.”
Feng later clarified that the phones are structurally intact, however they are currently inoperable.
After spending hours in a car with two men, Ai was driven to the outskirts of Jinan and released early Tuesday. He said that the men scanned and downloaded all of his electronic devices before letting him go.