BEIJING - A journalism rights group said Wednesday it is concerned for the safety of reporters in the run-up to this summer's Olympics after accounts of threats against them.
The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists said it welcomed China's willingness to have a dialogue on media freedom but was worried about threats made to journalists reporting on the unrest in Tibet and disturbances during the Olympic torch relay.
"We are impressed by a new willingness to talk through our differences over press freedom and journalism, but the problems facing reporters on the ground cannot be ignored," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary, at the end of the four-day visit to Beijing.
Western reporters in China have received harassing phone calls, e-mails and text messages, some with death threats, supposedly from ordinary Chinese complaining about alleged bias in coverage of recent anti-Chinese protests in Tibet.
The harassment began about three weeks ago and has largely targeted foreign television broadcasters, CNN in particular.
But the campaign broadened earlier this month after mobile phone numbers and other information for reporters from The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today were posted on several Web sites, including a military affairs chat site.
White said he and an IFJ delegation have held meetings with Chinese government officials, the government-backed All China Journalists Association and the Beijing Olympic Committee.
White said the group plans to follow up on efforts to ensure journalists' safety during the Olympics and to establish a framework for joint actions designed to improve communications between Chinese journalists and their colleagues overseas.
About 30,000 officially accredited and non-accredited journalists are expected in Beijing for the Games.