The arrest of two journalists in Inner Mongolia last week has raised serious questions about media freedom in the region. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for the immediate release of the two journalists.
Zou Guangxiang, who publishes his own financial news blog Guangxiang Caijiang was arrested from his home in Beijing by police from the Inner Mongolian city of Hohhot on March 28. According to several news reports, he was arrested for ‘spreading rumours’. The arrest came two days after he published an article about Pan Gang, the director of Yili Group, which said that Pan was suspected of running the business remotely from the US, and on his return to China, was taken into custody.
On April 2, Liu Chengkun, a blogger and former journalist with government-owned Time Weekly, was arrested in Beijing by police from Hohhot. His arrest came after he published two fictional stories about a character called Mr Pan. In the stories which were originally published on Tianlu Caijing, the character bore a striking resemblance to Pan Gang. The stories were deleted from Tianlu Caijing but later reposted to Sina Finance.
Following the arrests of the two journalists, on April 4, the Hohhot Police issued a statement that said six people have been arrested for their involvement in ‘manufacturing rumours’. No details were given on who were arrested, or how long they will be detained for. In the statement, the police said that the rumours were related to the scandal which saw a former manager of Yili Group jailed for several years.
The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “As is becoming the norm with the Chinese authorities, details surrounding the arrest and detention of Zou and Liu have been withheld. These two journalists should not be in detention, and have the opportunity to refute the allegations against them. Incidents such as these have the change to destroy reputations, although there is no evidence or details shared.”
The IFJ calls on the Hohhot Police to immediately release details of those arrested, what they have been charged with and how long they will be in detention.
We also call on the All China Journalists Association to intervene and fight for the rights of media workers across China.
For information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries
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