China hawks jailed dissident's 'confession'

Video shows Harry Wu denying BBC film on labour camps
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The Independent Online
China yesterday released video footage of the detained human rights activist Harry Wu Hongda in which he appeared to blame the BBC for inaccuracies in two films about China's prison-labour regime and the use of executed prisoners' organs for transplant.

The 13-minute propaganda video, with English subtitles, was offered out of the blue by fax to foreign television journalists for $3,000 (pounds 1,900). Mr Wu, a naturalised American, was detained on 19 June as he tried to enter China at a north-nest border point. In the video, he was shown looking tired, being interrogated by four public security officials. The footage was fuzzy. Several times, the video intersperses a voice- over.

The video, Just See The Lies of Wu Hongda, was billed by the official Xinhua news agency as a "confession" to "deliberately falsifying facts" in two films made by Sue Lloyd-Roberts, shown on the BBC last year. Mr Wu helped research material for the two documentaries.

A spokesman for BBC News and Current Affairs in London said it was standing by Ms Lloyd-Roberts's award-winning reports.

The supposedly erroneous details to which Mr Wu draws attention in the video mirror those highlighted by the Chinese authorities last year. It is understood that at the time of the original report, senior management asked Ms Lloyd-Roberts to provide a detailed account of how the films were compiled.

At no point in the video does Mr Wu deny the main themes of the two BBC broadcasts: that prisoners in China are used as forced labour to produce goods that are exported, and that organs from executed prisoners are used in transplants for foreign paying patients. It should be stressed that the video is a compilation of different parts of at least one interrogation session.

Since leaving China for the US in 1985, after spending 19 years in labour camps, Mr Wu has devoted himself to publicising the Chinese labour-camp system. In the video, Mr Wu admits there were errors in the BBC features. Regarding the prison-labour documentary, Mr Wu was asked about footage of leather jackets and children's clothes, described in the BBC film as having been produced inside labour camps:

Question: "Why did you link them?

Mr Wu (according to the subtitle): "I made a phone call to BBC and told them about the two wrong places. One is about the leather jackets and children's garments, and the other, this is not the work camp. "

The Chinese video's voice-over accused the BBC of "deliberately concocting" a claim that graves shown in the film were those of criminals rather than ordinary people.

Question: "You saw graves of common people?"

Mr Wu: "Right, so later I made a phone call to her and said how come the shots were like that? I said these are graves of common people."

Many foreigners, particularly from Hong Kong, have come to China for kidney transplants because of a shortage of donor organs in their own countries. In the past, human rights groups have obtained evidence that backs up allegations that organs from executed prisoners are used for transplant.

In the video, Mr Wu admits: "None of the doctors told me the kidneys were from condemned prisoners. All said they were from patients of brain deaths." He said pictures of a Chinese man on an operating table showed someone having a cardiac operation, not a kidney transplant. In London, BBC sources pointed out that Mr Wu worked closely with Ms Lloyd-Roberts throughout the production process, and distributed copies of the report on organ transplants to congressmen in the United States.

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