Hong Kong protests: US photographer arrested for 'suspicion of criminal damage' bailed out

Police officers detaining Getty Images photographer Paula Bronstein during a confrontation between police and pro-democracy protesters at Mongkok shopping district in Hong Kong on October 17, 2014. Hong Kong riot police used pepper spray and baton ch
Police officers detaining Getty Images photographer Paula Bronstein during a confrontation between police and pro-democracy protesters at Mongkok shopping district in Hong Kong on October 17, 2014. Hong Kong riot police used pepper spray and baton charged pro-democracy protesters who mobilised en masse on Friday evening after a pre-dawn clearance of a major protest zone in the Chinese-controlled financial hub. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (AFP) - An American photojournalist who was arrested in Hong Kong for standing on a car while covering clashes between pro-democracy protesters and the police there was bailed out on Saturday.

Getty Images agency photographer Paula Bronstein was arrested on Friday night amid confrontations between police and demonstrators.

Ms Bronstein said she was pushed against the car as violent scuffles broke out around her in the bustling Mongkok district, one of the main sites for the demonstrations that have paralysed parts of the financial hub over the last three weeks. "I don't know why it (the arrest) even happened at all, I don't really understand it. I've never been arrested before in my life," Ms Bronstein told AFP. Cable Television footage showed the car Ms Bronstein stood on was a black Mercedes-Benz.

A police statement published on Saturday said a foreign woman had been arrested for "suspicion of criminal damage" and that the driver of the car had filed a complaint. "The driver of the car said there was damage and requested the police to handle the incident," the statement said without further detail.

"I'm wearing sneakers, I'm not wearing army boots, I don't weigh 300 pounds, I'm a very petite woman," Ms Bronstein said.

She was released on a HK$300 (S$49) bail and told to report back to the police at the end of the month.

Twenty-six people were arrested during the fracas in total, the police said.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club late Friday condemned Ms Bronstein's arrest and said other journalists were also threatened while covering the Mongkok clashes.

The Asian financial hub has been rocked by demonstrations calling for free elections and the resignation of the city's leader.

Protesters have held sit-ins at three major intersections, including in Mongkok, causing significant disruption to a city usually known for its stability.

China has insisted that the city's leader must be vetted by a committee expected to be stacked with Beijing loyalists before standing for election in 2017, a proposal protesters have dismissed as "fake democracy".