Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke is asking the Police to admit responsibility for wrongly stopping an accredited parliamentary press gallery journalist from doing his job at a media event in the Beehive.
Wellington-based journalist Nick Wang, a press gallery veteran of nine years standing, was barred entry to a photo opportunity between deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen and Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan.
“It is disgusting that the Police are now trying to absolve themselves of blame, with Inspector Bruce Blaney now claiming Mr Wang was ‘a genuine security risk’ The Police can’t get away with this, because the exchange between Mr Wang and Police officers was captured on video,” Mr Locke says.
“Mr Wang was not ‘yelling and shouting’ as claimed by Inspector Blaney, but rightfully indignant at being deemed a security risk and being blocked from entering Michael Cullen’s office with other media to photograph Vice-Premier Zeng meeting Dr Cullen.
“The Police are also wrong to say that other media weren’t present at the meet-and-greet, as Superintendent Tony McLeod did on National Radio this morning. Chinese media were let in, but Mr Wang was blocked when he tried to follow them. It is completely unacceptable for independent New Zealand media to be excluded from an advertised ‘photo opportunity’, when tame Chinese media are allowed in.
“Superintendent McLeod was stretching the truth when he said that the Police had ‘absolutely not ‘ been responding to pressure from the Chinese delegation.
“The video shows a security officer from the Chinese Embassy talking to a Police officer, who then approached Mr Wang and said ‘the delegation were not happy with the people that are involved’ suggested that he may be Falun Gong [which he isn’t] and that ‘security issues’ were involved.
“Later, outside the Beehive theatrette, Senior Constable Dan O’Connell informed Mr Wang that they [presumably the Chinese officials] don’t want his presence there, and that if he didn’t leave, the signing ceremony in the theatrette could be cancelled.
“The Police have to come clean on the facts of the situation, and admit they were wrong to discriminate against a New Zealand journalist, under pressure from a foreign government. They can’t allow Chinese officials to import into New Zealand their intolerance of a critical and dissenting media.
“I will be pursing this matter with the Police and asking for an apology to Mr Wang,” Mr Locke says.