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Back from Beijing: Brian Conley

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♪Rocket Boom ♪ I'm sitting here with a face that many of you will recognize-- Brian Conley, obviously, who collaborates with RocketBoom. He just flew in from China this morning where he was detained for 5 days--? Six--6-and-a-half days--6-1/2 days. 6-1/2 days--and you would know that. Yes. BC>> Yeah. 6-1/2 days probably felt quite long. BC>> Yes. How was it organized? Because obviously, you weren't all having sort of, open--out-in- the-open conversations. Yeah, I mean the primary usage is Twitter. You know--Joanne>> Yeah. BC>> contact--communicating back and forth. You know, where do you need to be to meet someone, where am I? "Go here on this day at this time." So then all of a sudden, somebody turns up and arrests you. Yeah, [laughs]. Joanne>> So tell me about that, what happened? I had a knock on the door, "Hello sir, it's the police, please open the door". "No you're not under arrest we're just investigating some problems, there's some foreigners, and some Chinese who are planning to do some bad things to Americans and we're just trying to do a check to make sure everything's okay" Then I was sitting in the car outside and I heard the trunk open and realized that they were putting all of our belongings-- --myself and Jeff's belongings--had been packed up in our hotel room and were put into this car. And then I was driven to some sort of strange building that, at the time, I assumed was some kind of strange police bureau-- --brought into some sort of a little--almost like a little conference room-- --but with a very small table, maybe 4 or 5 feet across, 3 chairs. Then 3 officers came in and basically began to interrogate me. "Why are you here?" "Who sent you to Beijing?" "What's your purpose?" "What are you doing?" The way it works in China--as I understand it--is they have 24 hours to do an "investigation"-- Okay --and they don't have to charge you, they don't have to tell the embassy-- --they don't have to do anything--they can just hold you and question you for 24 hours-- --after which point they need to charge you or release you. So after about 8 or 10 hours, one of the guards left, and the other 2 guards fell asleep. Because --you know, they had been up for as long as I had. Yeah, which was 20-odd hours by now. Yeah, and so I just took out my phone and texted my wife and said "In jail. All fine." Just thought if people here would know--you know--what was going on--and would start to do something. >>Joanne: Yeah. >>BC: After 22 hours, they put us in a van, and we thought "Okay, well we're--they must be going to--we're going to be deported." Joanne: Yeah. >>BC: Because everybody before had been held for a maximum of, I think, 70 hours and then deported. And then we realized "No, we're going away from the airport." They took us to this--basically a prison, outside the city-- Processed us, you know, checked our medical health, gave us prison uniforms, took our clothes-- --and then, basically, locked each of us up in a cell with a bunch of other people--basically, generally pop. Several people in my cell had been held for over 50 days and told "Oh, well, we'll release you after the Olympics." You know, but not when-- Para-Olympics? Regular Olympics? How long after the Olympics? There was a German guy who had overstayed his visa, he had been in there for 45 days--"We'll release you after the Olympics." Joanne>> Okay. BC>> You know. A Cameroonian guy had been there for 58 days without seeing his embassy. So I was told the reason that we were being held for 10 days--and not deported like everyone else was-- --roughly immediately after, was because we were producing media and distributing the content. And they felt like that was-- Joanne>> Without permission. BC>> Yeah. Joanne>> Without their permission. BC>>Yeah, yeah. And they felt like that was much worse, much more dangerous, much more egregious, much more offensive than simply expressing your opinion-- --holding a flag, or causing a disruption. Joanne>>Are you looking forward to getting home? Yeah. Yes. Joanne>> Taking a bath? Yes, I'm very happy to be here, I took a shower this morning, I shaved, cleaned up. It felt really great. Joanne>> It's good to see you, Brian, and thanks for spending some time with us, really appreciate it. Thank you. Good to see you too.

Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 42 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Views: 2,109
Posted by: rocketboom on Aug 27, 2008

Joanne speaks with Alive in Baghdad’s Brian Conley upon his return to the United States after he was arrested and detained in Beijing last week for videotaping acts of civil disobedience by Students for a Free Tibet during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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