On April 19th, three defenders of press freedom, 27-year-old Cai Wei, 30-year-old Tang, and 27-year-old Chen Mei, were arrested for reposting on the open-source platform GitHub news articles and interviews, including some related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trio were involved in Terminus2049, a crowd-source online project started in 2018, which aims at overcoming the regime’s censorship by preserving censored news content.
Cai Wei and Tang, graduates of Tsinghua and Beijing Universities respectively, and Chen Mei, who obtained a degree from South China Agricultural University, are being kept under “residential surveillance in a designated location (RSDL)”, a term that refers to China’s “black prisons”, under the vague accusation of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
“Helping the public access censored information that could be potentially life-saving is not a crime,” said Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia bureau head, who urged the Chinese regime to “immediately set them free.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Chinese authorities have been doing everything they can to impose their narrative on the coronavirus, including blocking the circulation of information in China, denigrating foreign media outlets that criticize Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, and spreading false information.
China, 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index, is the world’s worst jailer of journalists with at least 112 of them behind bars.