The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly opposes the actions of the authorities in Beijing and Shanghai in searching and shutting down a media outlet without any indication of proper legal procedure. The IFJ urges the All Chinese Journalists Association and the state-controlled journalists’ organisation to continue to defend their rights as journalists in face of such violations.
In the past month, ten staff members of 21st Century Business Herald have been accused of involvement in an “extortion” scandal. The latest are two senior managers. On September 25, Shen Hao, 43, the editor-in-chief, and Chen Dongyang, the general manager, were taken from their office by Shanghai police, who asked them to assist with their investigations but did not say which case they were investigating. Hong Kong-based newspaper Mingpao reported that the paper’s editorial department in Beijing was searched, but there was no indication that the police had a search warrant.
Shen graduated from Beijing University in 1992 and worked for Southern Weekly for more than six years. In 2000, he was appointed editor-in-chief of 21st Century Business Herald, a publication of the Nanfang Media Group. After Shen and Chan were detained, the media group’s Communist Party Committee immediately removed them from their positions on the committee.
On September 3, eight employees of 21st Century Business Herald, including editor-in-chief, Liu Dong, and deputy editor-in-chief, Zhou Bin, were detained in Shanghai on allegations they had cooperated with two public relations agencies to blackmail companies with threats of negative reports. Police said the blackmail began in November 2013. The outlets running the website of 21st Century Business Herald had their license revoked and all staff were dismissed.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “It is totally unacceptable for the Shanghai and Beijing authorities to deviate from legal procedure when dealing with the case of 21st Century Business Herald. A law enforcement body should not search a media office when there is no evidence its officers have followed proper legal procedures and applied for a search warrant.
“Governments should understand that the media has a duty to protect all journalistic materials. If anyone has violated a law, officers have a duty to also adhere to the law in making in their investigations.
“In the case of 21st Century Business Herald, the authorities have no legal basis for shutting down a media outlet. The state-owned television station CCTV should be condemned for violating media ethics by ‘judging’ suspects when they have not been tried, or even charged.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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