Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has written to the Chinese ambassador in the UK attacking China’s censoring of foreign news websites – including Guardian.co.uk – in the wake of the Tibetan riots.
Mr Rusbridger asked for the ambassador’s assistance in unblocking his website back online and ensuring that access to it remained free of interference.
“As you will be aware, the blackout has coincided with media coverage of the recent unrest in Tibet, forcing the conclusion that this is an act of deliberate and wholly unacceptable censorship,” wrote Mr Rusbridger.
“We are dismayed that Beijing should curtail international press freedom, particularly in Olympic year.”
The move comes in the wake of a violent crackdown on protests in Tibet by Chinese authorities that have also attempted to block the media from reporting what was going on.
Tibetan exiles say at least 80 protesters died in the clashes as reporters were being forced to leave.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China reported that as many as two-dozen reporters have been turned away from or forced to leave Tibetan areas and government censorship of the internet and television broadcasts was also hampering journalists’ work.
“Reporting interference is not in the interest of the Chinese government which is trying to show a more open, transparent and accountable image to the world,” said FCCC President Melinda Liu, in a piece carried on the FCCC website.
“Such interference is not in keeping with reporting regulations adopted during the Olympics period – and is especially not in keeping with the international community’s expectations of an Olympic host nation,” added Liu.
Writing for the Telegraph.co.uk Richard Spencer claimed to have been ordered to leave the Tibetan town he was staying in by local police (Spencer also points to some bloggers who are managing to get information onto the net about the crackdown)
The Honk Kong Journalists Association (hat tip Roy Greenslade) is also reporting that journalists from at least six Hong Kong media organisations have been placed under escort and ordered out of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.