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Reporters on the Job

June 30, 2005



A Would-be Defector: Getting an exclusive interview with the Chinese diplomat in Australia (page 1), who is in hiding while waiting for political asylum, turned out to be easier than expected, says correspondent Janaki Kremmer. She e-mailed the editor of a Falun Gong newspaper in Sydney. She got a quick response. "He said that it would be good for Chen Yonglin to raise his public profile in the US. He said Mr. Chen had been disappointed with the Australian response," she says.

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With a bit of cloak-and-dagger drama, Janaki was told to expect a call from "William" to make the arrangements. "Tonight?" she asked, since it was already past midnight. "Yes," was the reply. But William never called.

The next morning, "Lillian" called Janaki to say that she was taking the place of "William." But they still needed to find a safe location for the interview. Janaki offered her apartment in Sydney.

Mr. Chen arrived with an interpreter and a Channel 9 (Australia) cameraman. She was told that the cameraman was just gathering footage of Chen meeting a journalist working for the US media for a longer story on his case. Janaki says that the interpreter was seldom used. "Once Chen got talking, he didn't need an interpreter. He spoke English well."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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