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South Korea 23 March 2009

Four TV union activists held in Seoul police station

Three of the four trade unionists have been fired by YTN. The fourth was released this morning.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of four journalists employed by public television news channel YTN who are union activists. The press freedom organisation has talked to one of them in the Seoul police station where they have been held since their arrest yesterday for staging a sit-in at the station.

“Level-headed, tolerant authorities do not arrest journalists for staging a peaceful demonstration in defence of their news media’s editorial independence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The TV station’s management has every right to file a complaint but the arrest of the journalists is completely disproportionate.”

Arrested at their homes yesterday, the four journalists are being held at Seoul’s Namdaemun police station pending a court hearing on 26 March concerning a complaint by the YTN management accusing them of obstructing the station’s operations. All four took part in a peaceful sit-in protest in the office of the head of the station. Two of them have already been fired by YTN.

Reporters Without Borders talked to Jong-Myun Roh, the head of the YTN journalists’ union, at the police station. He said their arrests were designed to crush the journalists’ protests against the appointment of a new YTN director-general who is a close associate of President Lee Myung-bak.

“We are non-violent and for dialogue, but the police keep interrogating me about the union’s strategy and the violence of the journalists’ union,” he said.

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