The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed that China’s police have accused outspoken Chinese freelance journalist Gao Yu of releasing state secrets.
As the IFJ has previously reported, Gao Yu, 70, and two family members have not been seen since April 24. According to the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, Beijing police confirmed that Gao has been detained because she released a state secret to a non-Mainland media outlet in August 2013.
Although the report did not give details, it is widely believed that the information was “Document Number <st1:chmetcnv unitname="”" sourcevalue="9" hasspace="False" negative="False" numbertype="1" tcsc="0" w:st="on">9”</st1:chmetcnv>, which was published in the Hong Kong monthly magazine TheMirror. The document disclosed the seven topics that the Central Government has forbidden officials to discuss, under threat of being removed from their positions. The topics include the Western Democratic System, Universal Values, Western Press Freedom and Civil Society.
The document said that promoting Western press freedom is equivalent to revoking the media’s role as a servant of the Party, and also warned against the promotion of free access to information on the internet.
According to the Xinhua report, Gao admitted that she obtained the document illegally in June last year and passed it to a non-Mainland media outlet. She has reportedly said she regrets her actions.
The IFJ said: “While the state secret law is vague and carries a maximum sentence of seven years, and the authorities believe it is ‘correct’ for the country, it is hard to understand why citizens of China should not be informed. In particular, Article 35 of China’s Constitution clearly states that people have rights to free speech and publication.
“Concealing information is no way for a ruling party to be accountable to the people. At the same time detaining and accusing a journalist is clearly a violation of press freedom. <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">China</st1:place></st1:country-region> is a member state of the United Nations and has a duty to uphold the UN Charter.”
We urge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to look into the case. We also urge all journalists, in particular those at the media outlets to which Gao has been contributing, to speak up.
Gao is currently working for Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Asia, as well as The Mirror. She was jailed for 15 months after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June 1989, and for six years in November 1994 for “publishing state secrets”.
In 1999, Gao became the first journalist to receive the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. In 2000 she was named one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the twentieth century.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
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