The European Union should impose sanctions on Chinese state media, a journalism advocacy group said on Thursday, denouncing broadcasts and reports of "forced confessions" by detainees.
The call by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) followed the broadcast of a purported confession by Swedish activist, Peter Dahlin, who has been detained by authorities on accusations of threatening state security.
China Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday aired footage Dahlin apologising to China for his alleged actions. The official news agency Xinhua also published quotes from the video.
"We are outraged by the dissemination of forced 'confessions' that have no informational value," said Benjamin Ismail, an Asia-based campaigner for RSF, in a statement posted on the organisation's website. "By knowingly peddling lies and statements presumably obtained under duress, CCTV and Xinhua become mass propaganda weapons and cease de facto to be news media."
RSF called on the EU to adopt sanctions against the outlets, saying doing so would be in line with EU actions in 2013 against Iranian state media officials whose broadcasts of forced confessions were said to be associated with violating the right to a fair trial.
On Monday CCTV broadcast a video of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, a naturalised Swedish citizen, confessing to a years-old mainland drink-driving offence and saying he did not want Stockholm to interfere with his case.
While forced public confessions are an old practice in Communist China, they have experienced a resurgence under President Xi Jinping, who took power in 2012.