China: RSF calls for release of news website publisher
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Lü Hua, the manager of Chinese news website Hubei New Perspective, who went missing four months ago after publishing an investigation on corruption, and whose detention was recently revealed.
Lü Hua, the publisher of Chinese independent news website Hubei New Perspective, was recently revealed to be detained, four months after his disappearance in mid-April 2023 in central Hubei province. Lü, 39, was taken in custody shortly after publishing an investigation into the alleged corruption of a local official. Though the charges have not been made public, state-owned media reported that Lü was suspected of “extortion”, a criminal offence which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
“Lü Hua was only serving the public interest by publishing on corruption, and should never be detained. We urge the international community to build up pressure on the Chinese authorities to secure Lü’s release alongside all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the country.
The media outlet, which previously reported on various social issues, stopped publishing new content following Lü’s arrest. One of the last stories, published in early April, was an impactful investigation into a local official who allegedly misused public funds.
Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he has been conducting a large-scale crusade against journalism, as revealed in RSF’s report The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, which details Beijing’s efforts to control information and media within and outside its borders.
China ranks 179th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 113 detained.