Former Journalist Jailed For Accepting Media Interviews In China

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply disturbed to learn that a former

journalist has been jailed in China

for more than two years for accepting media interviews about the tainted milk

scandal that rocked the country.


Zhao Lianhai, a former journalist whose son suffered from

kidney stones after consuming tainted milk manufactured by Sanlu, was convicted

by a court in Beijing

for “disturbing social order”. He was sentenced to two years and six months in

jail on November 10.


“Zhao is convicted because he accepted interviews by some non-mainland

media outlets on the street outside a restaurant and police station in 2009,” Zhao’s

lawyer, Li Fanping, said.


Zhao will appeal the court’s decision and has begun a hunger

strike until he regains his freedom.


Li said the sentence is harsh and unfair, particularly since

Zhao has been detained by authorities for 12 months.


Zhao was also accused of helping to organise parents of child

victims of tainted milk to ask for compensation. He was further accused of

assisting a rape victim to fight for justice.


“It is shocking that anyone should be jailed because they spoke

with the press. This case indicates China’s authorities are seeking to obstruct

the news-gathering process every step of the way,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


“The decision to prosecute an individual undermines the

principles of Article 35 of China’s Constitution and the regulations which

govern the activities of non-mainland media working in China.”


According to Article 17 of the Regulations of the PRC Concerning Reporting Activities of Permanent

Offices of Foreign Media Organisations and Foreign Journalists, Article 6

of the Regulations for Hong Kong and

Macau Journalists and Article 7 of the Regulations

for Taiwan Journalists, journalists and media workers are required only to

obtain the prior consent of an interviewee when seeking to interview

individuals in China.


The IFJ is also distressed to learn that senior management at

media outlets in China

are censoring reports on the Zhao case, despite no restrictive order being issued

by the Central Propaganda Department.


In 2008, six children died and 300,000 suffered various illnesses,

with many developing kidney stones, after drinking melamine-tainted milk

manufactured by Sanlu. 


For further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125



Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific