Beijing--(AP) Members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement hijacked a television signal and broadcast protest videos to areas on the outskirts of Beijing last month, police and television station employees said Thursday.

Falun Gong videos were briefly shown on the nights on Aug. 23 and 27 in Baoding, a city southwest of the Chinese capital, said a woman who answered the phone at a television station there. She wouldn't give her name or any details of the broadcasts.

The programming was seen within at least a 60-mile radius, including the Fangshan district of Beijing, said a television station official in the nearby town of Xushui. He refused to give his name, saying employees had been ordered not to reveal the incident. There was no immediate explanation of how Falun Gong activists took over the television signal.

Falun Gong supporters have broken into cable television systems in at least four cities this year to show videos protesting the government's 3-year-old crackdown on the group. In June, a state-run satellite television signal was hijacked and briefly displayed messages of support for the group.

The communist government say the broadcasts are proof of what it says is Falun Gong's disruptive, anti-social nature. Yet they also show that determined members are defying the crackdown.

A statement issued by activists abroad said the August broadcasts showed videos documenting support for the group outside China and condemning the crackdown and alleged police abuses. The group says Chinese authorities have killed hundreds of members in detention.

A police officer reached by telephone in Fangshan said several Falun Gong followers suspected of arranging the broadcast have been arrested. He wouldn't give his name or other details.

A man who answered the phone at a state company in Xushui said he saw a few seconds of images showing people standing in front of Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi doing the group's slow-motion calisthenics. Traditional Chinese music played in the background. "Then the screen suddenly turned black and white,'' said the man, who wouldn't give his name.

China's communist leaders banned Falun Gong in 1999, alarmed by its membership that numbered in the millions and its organizational ability. The government calls the group an "evil cult'' and accuses it of leading followers to their death by suicide or refusing modern medicine. The government has put enormous effort into demonizing the group, especially abroad, where it boasts a large membership and some public support.

Falun Gong promotes a mixture of eastern mysticism, meditation and traditional Chinese exercises, which is says promote health and clean living.

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