NUSA DUA, INDONESIA – Indonesia on Monday denied stifling press freedom after withdrawing the credentials of nine Hong Kong journalists attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum for shouting questions at Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, insisting that they had posed a security threat.
Despite protests from Hong Kong’s main journalist group, Aquino’s spokesman also said the journalists had “crossed the line” by aggressively questioning him about a 2010 hostage siege in Manila that left eight Hong Kong residents dead.
“We deemed it improper for media to act that way, as they didn’t talk normally but they were very demonstrative, like they were protesting,” said Gatot Dewa Broto, the Indonesian Communications Ministry official in charge of the APEC media center in Bali.
“So we did this due to security concerns,” he said, adding that the press badges of nine Hong Kong-based journalists had been deactivated.
They were free to remain in Bali, but could no longer access the media center or venues being used for the summit, the official said.
Hong Kong media said journalists and technicians from Now TV, RTHK and Commercial Radio were affected.
As Aquino entered a meeting of APEC business leaders Sunday, the reporters demanded to know whether he would meet Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying in Bali and apologize to the families of the hostage crisis victims.