Protests Tarnish Olympic Ceremony

OLYMPIA, Greece -- Human rights demonstrators breached tight security at the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia on Monday.

Just before the torch-lighting ceremony inside the archaeological site that played host to the Olympics in ancient Greece, three demonstrators managed to break a tight police cordon.

One protester, carrying a black banner with five interlocked handcuffs in the pattern of the Olympic rings, approached Beijing games chief Liu Qi during his speech but was led away by police before he could unfold it.

Liu was not distracted by the commotion and continued his speech, while television footage immediately cut away from the incident.

"The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world," Liu told the assembled crowd.

Police said a total of six people were briefly detained and three men would be charged with breaching the peace.

"It is always sad to see such a ceremony disrupted," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge told reporters.

Exiled Tibetans had pledged to demonstrate against China's security crackdown in the region and what they say is the IOC's hesitance to put pressure on Beijing to improve its human rights record.

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said three of its members had tried to stage the protest on Monday.

"We cannot let the Chinese government seize the Olympic flame, a symbol of peace, without condemning the dramatic human rights situation," the group said on its web site.

RSF secretary-general Robert Menard unfurled a second black banner from the VIP area where he was seated.