Beijing urged London on Monday to support the work of foreign news outlets after a British citizen called on Britain’s media regulator to revoke the broadcast license of China’s state television.
Peter Humphrey, a UK fraud investigator, said that China Central Television (CCTV) helped Chinese police stage his allegedly forced confession and subsequent jailing in China in 2014.
He sent the British watchdog Ofcom a letter of complaint accusing CCTV journalists of cooperating with Chinese police to “extract, record, make post-production and then broadcast” Humphrey’s confession.
Ofcom has the power to fine broadcasters for breaching British rules, and can revoke their licenses in the most serious cases.
“I hope Britain can support and facilitate the reporting work of international media in the UK,” said Chinese foreign ministry official spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing in Beijing Monday.
“I think news organisations are a bridge and bond to promoting mutual understanding and friendly exchanges between the people of each country,” he added.
A spokesman for Ofcom confirmed it had “received a complaint which we are assessing as a priority”.
“If, following investigation, we find our rules have been broken we would take the necessary enforcement action,” he added.
Geng said Humphrey pleaded guilty during his sentencing and “repented”.
“China’s judicial departments handle cases according to the law, and safeguard the legal rights and interests of foreigners in China,” Geng said.
Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng, a naturalised US citizen, were linked to a corruption case in China involving pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
The couple ran an investigative firm which was hired by GSK to probe a sex tape of the company’s then China boss and other issues shortly before the British pharmaceutical company itself became the target of a Chinese government investigation.
In Humphrey’s letter of complaint, he accuses Chinese authorities of drugging him and locking him in a chair inside a small metal cage to conduct the confession.
In 2014, Humphrey was sentenced to over two years in prison by a Shanghai court for breaching privacy laws.
He was released seven months early and deported in 2015.
Humphrey told AFP this was the first legal action he has launched against any of the Chinese entities involved in his incarceration.
“It will not be the last,” he added.