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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 09:38 UK

Clandestine Olympic protests

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Jean-Jacques Schwenzfeier
We were told to look for the man in the red baseball cap
It was just like a scene from a bad spy movie.

A text message told us to enter the hotel and meet a man in a red baseball cap.

We found him and followed him. He led us to a small, hot and dark hotel room on the fifth floor, where we were shown a video.

Enter the world of the Olympic protester - people who have come to Beijing to voice their complaints about the Chinese government.

On this occasion, journalists were played a video showing Tibetans expressing their feelings about the Olympic Games and other topics.

It was just one in a series of cloak-and-dagger publicity stunts staged by protesters just two days before the start of the Games.

Text alert

Our particular adventure began when we received a text message telling us to meet at Beijing's Golden Palace Silver Street Hotel at 0900.

Once there, we sat outside the hotel in our car and waited. Ten minutes before the designated hour, we received our second message.

"On entering the hotel, make a right into the breakfast room. Look for the man in the red baseball cap," read the text.

We went, got lost for a while and then found the room. If we were supposed to be inconspicuous, it was not working.

A student unveils a banner outside the Birds Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing (6th August) Image: Free Tibet
Other protesters have made more public demonstrations
There were seven journalists in all, some carrying camera equipment.

The hotel's Chinese staff looked on, wondering what was going on.

Eventually, the man in the red baseball cap made his appearance. He ate breakfast and then went to sit in the lobby. We followed.

After another 10 minutes or so, he led us to his fifth-floor room. The air conditioning was turned off and the curtains were closed.

It was only then that the man in the red baseball cap - German Jean-Jacques Schwenzfeier - told us what would happen.

Tibetan activists

We were to be shown a video that included a statement read out by a female activist.

Mr Schwenzfeier declined to give out her name, but it was Dechen Pemba, an ethnic Tibetan with a British passport.

She was kicked out of China last month after the authorities accused her of being a free Tibet activist - a charge she denied at the time.

The statement was followed by the airing of a documentary.

That, we were told, had been shot by Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen between November last year and March this year.

He is supposedly now in detention, arrested shortly after completing the project.

The film consists of a series of interviews with ordinary Tibetans talking about the Olympics, China and freedom.

One scene shows Tibetans watching a video of US President George Bush meeting the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's spiritual leader.

It was all over in about half an hour. The police had not broken up the gathering, although they had been asking questions outside the hotel.

Back in the hotel room, Mr Schwenzfeier nervously answered our questions. It was his first time in China and he seemed unsure about what to say.

He kept his baseball cap on.

The activist declined to say who was behind the publicity stunt, and initially wanted to remain anonymous - until we pointed out that we had taken his photo.

What will happen to him now? He was not sure.

"There are worse things than being deported," he said before we left, closing the door behind us.



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