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Rights Group Slams China's Handling of the Media Before Olympics

An international human rights group says the Chinese government continues to threaten and block foreign journalists in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

In a new report, Human Rights Watch says correspondents in China face severe difficulties in accessing forbidden areas and covering topics that the Chinese government considers sensitive.

The report cites examples of how journalists were barred from Tibet and other Tibetan areas in the wake of unrest there in March. It also documents how foreign reporters and their sources have faced intimidation or are barred from covering stories that would embarrass authorities, or tell more about incidents of social unrest.

The report's release Monday comes a day before China opens its main press center for the August games.

About 25,000 journalists are expected to cover the Beijing Games.

The group's report is based on more than 60 interviews with correspondents in China between December, 2007 and June of this year.

The report says China's foreign ministry has declined to investigate death threats made against more than 10 correspondents in March and April of this year, following the unrest in Tibet.

It also says authorities have threatened to revoke media organizations' accreditation to the Olympics if they report on events that could embarrass the Chinese government.

Human Rights Watch Asia Advocacy Director Sophie Richardson says that with such restraints in place, the Chinese government is limiting the ability of journalists to objectively report on the complex realities of modern China.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.