A former worker at the British consulate in Hong Kong has lodged an official complaint with Britain’s broadcast regulator against Chinese state broadcaster CGTN over its airing of a confession he was forced to make.
Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, filed the complaint with the Office of Communications (Ofcom) on Nov. 27, accusing CGTN of breaking Britain’s broadcasting regulations by airing footage that showed him “confessing” to soliciting prostitution.
The footage was taken after he was detained in Shenzhen while on a trip to mainland China in August. It included pictures of Cheng in pink prison clothes claiming to feel ashamed for what he had done.
CGTN, the international arm of China Central Television (CCTV), and which airs in Britain, broadcast the footage in the United Kingdom supposedly as evidence of Cheng’s alleged guilt a day after he gave an interview with the BBC about being tortured while in detention for 15 days.
Cheng’s complaint, published by rights group Safeguard Defenders on Nov. 28, said the broadcast broke Ofcom’s rules on privacy and fairness.
“The broadcast not only violates numerous regulations under the [Ofcom] Broadcasting Code, but also includes direct and easily proven lies,” Cheng said in the complaint.
“I was under extreme distress and did not voluntarily make the recording,” he said.
“People in a state of distress should not be put under pressure to take part in a program or provide interviews, unless it is warranted,” he said.
“The broadcast is made for the purpose of stating that I have committed a crime, despite no evidence and no court judgment being presented. It is also for the purpose of inciting hatred against me, with the aim of reducing my credibility,” he added.
Ofcom told the BBC that it had received the complaint and was assessing it.
Safeguard Defenders said Cheng was currently in hiding in Britain due to kidnap fears.
The Chinese embassy in London had earlier said that Cheng’s legal rights had not been violated while in detention and stuck by the claim he had been soliciting prostitution.
“There was no such thing as ‘extorting confessions by torture’ as claimed by Cheng and the British side,” the embassy told Britain’s Foreign Office on Nov 26.
“Regarding this case, the facts are clear and the evidence solid. Cheng has confessed all his offences, and the Chinese law enforcement institution’s handling of the case was completely justified and lawful,” the South China Morning Post reported the embassy as saying.
Cheng, however said police only questioned him about what Britain was doing regarding the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.His Ofcom complaint comes as Chinese media is trying to portray the Hong Kong protesters as hooligans seeking to sow unrest in the city.