Chinese reporter held on ‘state secret’ charges

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the detention and charges against a Chinese journalists for ‘obtaining a state secret’ on October 9. The IFJ demand the immediate release of the journalist and provide information into his arrest.

On October 8, Liu Wei, the deputy assignment editor of the investigative news reporting team of  Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily,was detained by Pingxiang police, in Changdu in Sinchuan province. On October 9, Liu’s arrest notice, which was sent to his family to inform them of his detention, said that he was suspected of illegally obtaining a ‘state secret’, although no details of the specific secret were revealed. On October 16, Liu’s employer, the Southern Metropolis Daily issued a statement saying that they were ‘shocked and surprised’ by Liu’s arrested. On October 13 Liu’s lawyer was allowed to visit him however bail has subsequently been denied twice and Liu is been held at Jinxian County Detention Centre in Nanchang city.

Liu’s arrest has been linked to his reporting of Wang Lin, a ‘spiritual’ martial artist from Pingxiang. Wang was detained in July on allegations that he was involved in the murder of his protégé, Zho Yong. Liu reported on Zho’s death and his allegations of fraud against Wang extensively, including obtaining and publishing documents from Wang’s ex-wife.  According to mainland media reports, a local police officer had been a source for a number of Liu’s reports.

Liu's detention also comes after the paper ran a black page as an advertisement on the International Day of Democracy last month, prompting some to wonder if the ad was making a sly reference to a lack of democracy in China.

If found guilty of ‘obtaining a state secret’ under Section 282 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the maximum penalty Liu would face is seven years imprisonment. In April 2015, veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu was sentenced to seven years in jail after she was arrested and charged with ‘obtaining a state secret’ in April 2014.

Liu’s employer, the Southern Metropolis Daily, have been very active in support of Liu, voicing concerns for Liu and given out details of his case. Media reports have commented on these actions, noting that the employer is taking some responsibility for Liu’s detention and arrest.

The IFJ said “The IFJ demands the immediate and unconditional release of Liu Wei. The charges he is facing are completely unnecessary as Liu was simply doing his job. The Chinese government continues to extend the scope of ‘state secrets’ making basic journalism and investigations susceptible to criminal investigations and repercussions.”

“Journalists in China are increasingly facing threats from the government as it attempts to control the flow of information, restricting and suppressing freedom of expression and press freedom. This needs to be stopped immediately.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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