Reporters Without Borders hails investigative journalist Xie Chaoping’s release on bail in Weinan (in Shaanxi province) on 17 September for lack of evidence. After being held for 29 days for writing a book about the Sanmenxia Dam entitled “The Great Migration,” he has been able to return to Beijing.
“Xie’s release is excellent news but now he must he now be quickly cleared of the charges of illegal commercial activity that the Weinan authorities brought against him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for the release of the printer who was also accused of illegal commercial activity for printing his book. It is still not known what has happened to him.”
Reporters Without Borders found it very encouraging to see how many Chinese journalists, academics, cartoonists and bloggers rallied to Xie’s defence, forcing the authorities to back down and release him on bail.
As he left prison, Xie said: “I definitely do not regret writing this book. I am prepared to be arrested again.” Xie fears that he could be arrested again because the Weinan Public Security Department is continuing to search for evidence.
Xie’s lawyer, Zhou Ze, said that Xie’s release was above all the result of public pressure. On 14 September, for example, around 60 academics posted a petition online urging the Communist Party Central Committee to order his release. Zhou said the police and prosecutors lack material evidence for a prosecution. He added that he hoped that, once back in Beijing, Xie would be granted a full release.
Xie was questioned every day while held. On some days, the interrogations lasted for as much as seven hours. He also had to perform forced labour duties for five hours a day.
Journalist arrested for writing book about the Sanmenxia dam
7 September 2010
China’s colossal Sanmenxia dam has a new victim – Xie Chaoping, a journalist who was illegally arrested without a warrant in the northeastern city of Weinan on 19 August after writing a book about the fate of those displaced by the dam. He is now reportedly being held by the Public Security Department in Beijing.
Much has been written about this dam, a major source of environmental damage and human suffering, but it seems the authorities do not welcome any investigative reporting on the subject by Chinese journalists.
Reporters Without Borders calls on the Beijing authorities to release Xie Chaoping at once. It is deplorable that a journalist who tried to cover subject of general interest is being treated as if he were a criminal.
Xie is accused of illegal commercial activity but his lawyer, Zhou Ze, reported in his blog on 30 August that the real reason for his arrest was his decision to self-publish 10,000 copies of his book, “The Great Migration,” about the fate of people who were displaced by the dam. Xie spent three years interviewing migrants and gathering information for the book.
Xie’s detention is completely illegal as neither his lawyer nor his family have been given a copy of the arrest warrant or any explanation for his arrest. According to Chinese penal procedure, they should have been notified within 48 hours.
This is not the first time that someone has been punished for providing information about the fate of those displaced by a dam. See the case of Fu Xiancai: http://en.rsf.org/china-call-for-sanctions-after-beating-14-06-2006,1800...
At least 35 journalists are currently detained in China.