Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests of investigative journalist Yin Yusheng and freelance writer Jiang Lijun, regarding their detention as designed to intensify government intimidation of dissident journalists.
Currently held at a detention centre in Zhengzhou (in Henan province), Yin was arrested in the northeastern city of Dalian on 21 June in connection with his participation in a homage in February to former Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, who was fired as party general secretary in 1989 for opposing martial law and the use of violence to end the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations. Jiang is being held in Shenyang detention centre No. 1 (in the northeastern province of Liaoning) on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” for posting information online that was embarrassing for the Communist Party. He is also being investigated for allegedly “creating a disturbance.” Although not formally arrested and charged until 25 June, he has been held May, when the police came to his home and took him away without giving him a chance to let his family know. He was jailed for four years, from 2002 to 2006, on a similar charge. “Whether reprisals for posting articles that embarrassed the authorities or preventive measures against the ‘usual suspects,’ these arrests are intolerable,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “Their arrests show the range of methods used by the police to gag all those who try to provide independently-reported news and information – abduction-style arrests, isolation from relatives, vague security-related charges, impugning their motives and hacking their online accounts. The authorities are implementing the Communist Party’s crackdown with ferocity.” A few days before his arrest, Yin told a former colleague that he feared he could be arrested imminently. On the day of his arrest, he managed to post a photo on his Weibo account that showed him sitting in an airport, handcuffed. Later that evening, sources said his Weibo account was hacked, possible in search of evidence against him. Ever since his arrest, his family has tried in vain to obtain information about him from the police. A former colleague of the anti-corruption journalist Li Jianjun, Yin covered corruption and reconstruction stories after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province. He also supported the journalist Chen Baocheng after his arrest in August 2013 during an anti-expropriation demonstration. Yin was also one of the journalists to cover the ramifications of Hubei university student Li Qiming’s arrest in October 2010 for running down two fellow students with his car, killing one of them. When arrested, Li threatened the deputy chief of the Baoding district police station, saying: “My father is Li Gang.” Despite the authorities’ attempts to suppress the scandal, the expression “My father is Li Gang” quickly became a widely-used ironic way of refusing to assume responsibility. It was after covering this case that Yin was fired from Chengdu Shangbao (Chengdu Business Daily). China is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.