BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese plainclothes security officials dragged away three American Christian activists on Thursday after they attempted to protest for religious freedom for a second day in Beijing's main Tiananmen Square.

The three were swooped on as they started a news conference and brief prayer vigil outside the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, just a day before the Olympics open.

"We have come here today to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government," Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, told a small group of foreign reporters.

"We have come here today to be a voice to those who are in prison because of their religious beliefs," he added, as security officials held up umbrellas and their hands to prevent the incident being filmed.

As the three knelt to pray, burly officials dragged them away, trying to block reporters from seeing what was happening and grabbing at microphones.

Reuters has more details here.

This video is from Reuters, broadcast August 7, 2008.

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