SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine – Armed men in Crimea's capital city have confiscated equipment from Associated Press employees and contractors working there.
AP's Global Media Services, a division of the news cooperative that provides services to broadcasters, said a crew was setting up a satellite uplink for a live camera position above a Simferopol restaurant Thursday. They were approached by unarmed men who asked them to turn off their broadcast lights and prevented them from leaving the building.
Two other men then came and took photos of AP's equipment, including protective jackets, and accused the crew of being spies.
Later, armed men showed up and ordered the crew to put their hands against the wall while they cut cables and took the equipment away. Some of the equipment has been recovered, but much is still missing. The contractors and employees were kept at the building for about two hours before being released unharmed.
AP condemned the mishandling of its personnel and the taking of its equipment. Although the armed men weren't identified, AP planned to vigorously protest the incident to the Crimean government.
"Any suggestion that these individuals were anything but journalists is ludicrous. They were professionals doing a job on a story that has generated keen interest among news audiences worldwide," said John Daniszewski, AP senior managing editor for international news in New York.