The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns a new wave of jailing and detention of journalists in China.
Qi Chonghuai, a journalist working for China Legal News, and He Yanjie, a fellow journalist who co-wrote reports with Qi, were sentenced to jail by a court in Shandong yesterday.
Qi was sentenced to four years and He to two years.
Qi, 42, has been in detention since June 25, 2007, on charges of blackmail. Qi has worked in the industry for more than 13 years and is known for his reporting on the alleged corruption of Shandong officials. China Legal News is a national newspaper owned and controlled by the Ministry of Justice.
Qi’s lawyer, Li Xiongbing, told the IFJ today that the court hearing was unusually brief, indicating a lack of due process and consideration of the facts.
Li also accused local police of beating Qi repeatedly during his detention and barring him from speaking with his wife, Jiao Xia. Li visited Qi today and said Qi was determined to appeal the case.
Jiao, meanwhile, is under surveillance by Shandong officials and was unable to speak to the IFJ.
In another case, environmental activist and freelance journalist Chen Daojun was detained on May 9 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. Press freedom organisation PEN reported that Chen was detained during a protest over chemical plants in Pengzhou, 39 kilometres from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the site of this week’s earthquake.
Writer and activist Hu Jia was jailed on April 3 in Beijing on the same charge of “inciting subversion of state power”. On May 3, Zhou Yuanzhi, a freelance writer and social commentator, was detained in Zhongxiang City, Hubei Province, in central China.
“The jailing of Qi and He and the new charges against other journalists in China reveal an apparently increasing clampdown against journalists and writers in China in the lead-up to the Olympics in August,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“China’s central government must rein in local authorities who are using the courts to silence criticism and dissent.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries