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American Reporters Attacked by South Vietnamese Police

July 7, 1963 - About 20 South Vietnamese policemen attacked a group of nine Western reporters and photographers today who were covering an otherwise peaceful Buddhist demonstration in Saigon. The secret policemen pushed reporters and knocked down one of them, Peter Arnett (pictured far left) of The Associated Press. That altercation abruptly ended when David Halberstam (center, wearing sunglasses) of the New York Times placed himself in front of Mr. Arnett and pushed back the secret police. Mr. Arnett suffered cuts and bruises. Later, a policeman used a rock to smash the camera of Malcolm Browne, also an AP reporter. When other reporters tried to seize the rock-wielding policeman, they were blocked by uniformed riot policemen. All the reporters and photographers involved were working for American news media. Four of them sent a cablegram to President Kennedy. They charged that the Diem Government “has begun a campaign of open physical intimidation to prevent the covering of news which we feel Americans have the right to know.” The cablegram was signed by Mr. Browne, Mr. Halberstam, Peter Kalischer of CBS News, and Neil Sheehan of UPI. At Hyannis Port, Mass., where President Kennedy is vacationing, the White House press secretary, Pierre Salinger, said an investigation of the incident was being undertaken by the State Department. The State Department later reported that the U.S. Embassy in Saigon had officially complained to the Vietnamese Government about the mistreatment of American newsmen.


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