NUSA DUA, Indonesia - APEC hosts Indonesia on Monday denied stifling press freedom after withdrawing the credentials of nine Hong Kong journalists for shouting questions at the Philippine leader, insisting that they had posed a security threat.
Despite protests from Hong Kong's main journalist group, President Benigno Aquino's spokesman also said the journalists had "crossed the line" by aggressively questioning him about a hostage siege in Manila that left eight Hong Kong people dead in 2010.
"We deemed it improper for media to act that way, as they didn't talk normally but they were very demonstrative, like they were protesting," Gatot Dewa Broto, the Indonesian communications ministry official who is in charge of the APEC media centre in Bali, told AFP.
"So we did this due to security concerns," he said, adding that the press badges of nine Hong Kong journalists had been deactivated.
They were free to remain in Bali, but could no longer access the media centre or venues being used for the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the official said.
Hong Kong media said journalists and technicians were affected from Now TV, RTHK and Commercial Radio.
As Aquino entered a meeting of APEC business leaders on Sunday, the reporters demanded to know whether he would meet Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying in Bali and apologise to the families of the hostage crisis victims.
Now TV footage showed the journalists shouting "So you're ignoring the Hong Kong people, right?" and "Have you met CY Leung" as they tried to reach their microphones over Aquino's entourage.