Chinese police dragged a British journalist on the ground and detained him while eight pro-Tibet activists were arrested for protesting near the main Olympic stadium in Beijing on Wednesday.
Uniformed police pounced on John Ray, China correspondent for Independent Television News, wrestled him to the ground and dragged him into a nearby restaurant, where he was forcibly held by officers who reportedly stood on his hands, witnesses and the reporter told AFP.
Ray, who is accredited by China to report in Beijing during the Olympic Games, said he was detained for about 20 minutes and that his equipment bag was confiscated.
"This was an assault in my mind, I am incredibly angry about this," Ray told AFP after he was released.
The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said two of their members hung a banner that said "Free Tibet" on a bridge in the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park, south of the National Stadium.
Another five or six members handcuffed themselves to each other and to bicycles at the front gate of the park, said Lhadon Tethong, the group's executive director.
All — including Pema Yoko, a half-Tibetan woman with Japanese citizenship — were detained by police and plainclothes security agents, Tethong said.
"The Tibetan protesters were in the park, John Ray was running behind them, the police was running behind him," said Bessie Du, a Beijing-based producer for the program, who watched the situation unfold from afar.
A man who answered the telephone at the Beijing Public Security Bureau refused to comment. The park's security director who would give only his surname, Dong, confirmed the protest took place.
"We always had security arrangements in place. Even before they could fully start the demonstration, we had them under control," Dong said.
The demonstration was the largest in a string of brief protests — mostly by foreigners hoping to use the Olympics to draw attention to their causes — in Beijing since the games started last week. Most have had less than five people and foreign activists have been deported.
Also Wednesday, a rights group said a Chinese activist who applied for permission to protest against corruption during the Olympics was taken away by security agents.
Ji Sizun came to Beijing from the southern province of Fujian and wanted to demonstrate in one of three protest zones Chinese officials have designated for the games, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Ji, 58, applied at the Deshengmenwai police station on Aug. 8, the day the Olympics began, and disappeared three days later, when he went back to check on his application, it said.
Witnesses saw Ji enter the police station on August 11 only to be escorted out of the building later and put into a car by several men "who appeared to be plainclothes policemen," the group said.
Ji's cell phone was turned off on Wednesday. A man who answered the telephone at the Deshengmenwai police station said no one had been arrested or taken away.
"Petitioners have the right to apply. We don't dare to touch them," said the officer. He refused to comment further and said he was too busy to give his name or position.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.