CNN, BBC Reporters Covering China Activist Trial Manhandled on Live TV

Street-side tussles take place outside Beijing court where transparency campaigner Xu Zhiyong is being tried behind closed doors

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BBC journalist Martin Patience lived up to his name today. While covering the trial of Chinese activist Xu Zhiyong in Beijing, Patience was harassed by police officers and plainclothes thugs. But he kept his cool and continued with his live shot.

Watch the video here.

Other journalists, including reporters David McKenzie of CNN and Mark Stone of Sky News were also manhandled outside the courtroom.

Stone’s video can be seen here, and McKenzie’s here.

CNN’s camera was broken and its TV coverage blacked out. McKenzie also said he was detained. Supporters of Xu outside the court were taken away by police.

The irony, of course, it that street-side tussles only called attention to what was happening indoors. A well-known legal scholar who campaigns for government transparency, Xu is charged with “gathering crowds to disrupt public order” and will very likely face jail time. In court today, he stayed silent to protest proceedings he likened to “a piece of theater.”

Late last year, some of Xu’s supporters, including a trio of activists detained for taking a picture of themselves holding a sign that asked China’s top leaders to disclose their wealth, were put on trial. (There’s been no verdict.) Since April of 2013, more than a dozen people associated with Xu’s New Citizens Movement have been detained.

The courtroom drama comes on the same day the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a report linking China’s top rulers to offshore tax heavens. More on that here.