To no one’s surprise really, journalists trying to cover the case of Tan Zuoren in Chengdu were harassed and assaulted by local authorities.
From an incident report posted at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China site:
Hong Kong journalists attempting to cover the sentencing in Chengdu of writer/activist Tan Zuoren were hassled and shoved by police. One of the group reported:
Nine Hong Kong reporters arrived at the Chengdu courthouse around 7 a.m.
We wanted to interview the lawyer and relatives of Sichuan earthquake activist Tan Zuoren outside the courthouse, before the trial was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Around 9 a.m. police ordered us to enter the courthouse. When we refused to go, they used physical force, and shoved us into a holding room.
One reporter who was carried in was slightly injured in a scuffle.
The authorities said they wanted to check our media credentials. Around 10 a.m., after the verdict was issued, the authorities returned our credentials and released us. We went outside the courthouse and tried to interview the lawyer about the five-year prison sentence for subversion, but uniformed police kept pushing us around. They said we were violating regulations by blocking the sidewalk. Despite the disruptions, we were eventually able to complete the interviews.
At least in this case the reporters were eventually allowed to do their interviews. In previous cases, reporters seeking to interview lawyers defending dissidents were detained and then led out of town. In other cases security forces would disrupt the press scrum. And — more commonly — the reporters would be tailed by a large contingent of security forces to intimidate any potential interviewees.