Reporters Without Borders Make Pirate Broadcast in Beijing

Jane Macartney reports in the Independent:

The world’s best-known advocate of freedom of the media took its message to the heart of Beijing this morning, making a pirate broadcast on Chinese radio exactly 12 hours to the minute before the start of the Olympics opening ceremony.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders began broadcasting on local FM radio to several districts of Beijing at 8.08 a.m local time (0000 GMT), denouncing China’s grip on media and expression. The broadcast, in both English and Mandarin Chinese, while often indistinct, lasted for 20 minutes.

In the latest embarrassing breach of China’s massive security operation, the group used the FM 104.4 frequency to demand the release of political prisoners and the lifting of censorship. A voice at the start of the broadcast said: “China is the country of censorship, and this programme is our way of making fun of the Chinese authorities who still keep hundreds of journalists and Internet users in prison.”

Vincent Brossel, a Paris-based spokesman for the group, said they timed the audacious on-air challenge to coincide with the final build-up to the Beijing Games opening on Friday evening. “It’s 12 hours before the opening of the Olympics – a time when we want these voices heard.” Members of disrupted the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece earlier this year, setting the stage for demonstrations throughout the relay.

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