Journalist tried for posting "alarmist" reports on foreign websites
(Jan. 21, 2006)Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today about the current crackdown on independent reporters after Li Changqing, the former deputy editor of Fuzhou Daily, was tried yesterday on charges of publishing "fabricated" and "alarmist" reports on websites based abroad.
No verdict was announced at the end of the trial, and Reporters Without Borders called for his acquittal.
"Exposing corruption or providing information about public health crises is part of a journalist's work," the press freedom organisation said. "Denying the media the right to investigate such issues means treating them as mere mouthpieces of the government."
Arrested on 3 February 2005, Li was initially accused of "subverting the state" but, according to his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, the prosecutor had no evidence to support this accusation so Li was finally charged with fabricating an alarmist report about dengue fever in the eastern city of Fuzhou that was posted on the Boxun.com website. The Washington Post quoted Mo as saying the report was written by the site's editors using information provided by Li.
According to his family, Li is really being punished for writing articles supporting a Chinese official, Huang Jigao, who wrote an open letter in 2004 criticising local government corruption.
Mo said the verdict ought to be announced by 15 February.
A total of 32 journalists and some 50 cyber-dissidents are currently imprisoned in China. On 17 January, three journalists were given sentences of up to 10 years in prison for writing about land confiscations in the southeastern province of Zhejiang. See:
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