Reporting local corruption results in jail sentence for journalist in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned that reporter Yang Xiaoqing remains in jail 75 days after his arrest in January 2006 and today called for his immediate release by the local Longhui officials who are holding him in detention.

Based in Longhui in the southern province of Hunan, Yang, aged 36, has been detained on charges of trying to extort 800,000 yuan (81,000 euros) from local officials for not accusing them of corruption in his newspaper reports and of publishing defamatory articles on an ‘illegal’ website when his alleged extortion attempt failed.

His wife Gong Jie, who is a journalist herself, believes these charges to be fabricated by local officials in retaliation for two articles that Yang published in May 2005 alleging local corruption by the Longhui county officials in the sale of a state-owned company to private individuals.

Gong has accused the authorities of trying to make Yang confess to a something he did not do. Gong has sought legal advice in Beijing and despite legal representation for her husband he continues to be held in the Longhui police station, where police officers have refused to give any information about him to the news media.

Yang has been the correspondent of Zhongguo Chanjing Xinwenbao (China Industrial Economy News) since 2001. He also writes for Xianggang Shangbao (Hong Kong Commerce Daily). He has previously written articles exposing corruption and mismanagement in the region.

Prior to his arrest, Yang spent five months in hiding in fear of his life following the publication of the two articles exposing local corruption.

“The detention and intimidation of journalists who report corruption by authorities is unacceptable and must be condemned by the Chinese Government at all levels of the administration” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“I urge the central government to take up this case with officials in Longhui, to release Yang Xiaoquing immediately. The international community of journalists condemns such repression and will not let such abuse go unnoticed.”

Yang Xiaoqing is one of only approximately 30 journalists currently imprisoned in China, including New York Times researcher Zhao Yan, imprisoned since October 20, 2004, despite all charges being dropped in March 2006 and Hong Kong resident and The Strait Times journalist, Ching Cheong who has been imprisoned since April 22, 2005.

“Over 30 journalists remain imprisoned in China and we vehemently call for the release of those who remain in prison,” said Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries