Liu Hu

Police stormed into the home of Liu Hu, a journalist with the Guangzhou-based Modern Express daily, on 24 August 2013, took him off to Beijing, and put him in Detention Centre No. 1, which is usually reserved for the most dangerous criminals. After 37 days, the maximum for provisional detention, he was formally charged with defamation, his bail request was rejected and one of his lawyers was placed under disciplinary investigation for posting documents linked to the case online. The reason for this nightmarish scenario? Liu had posted information about embezzlement by a local official, Ma Zhengqi, on his personal page on the Weibo social network because he knew that censorship would prevent its publication in the newspaper. This was too much for the party. What with the information Liu had already posted on Weibo about other cases, including the president of the Shanghai supreme court and the head of the Shaanxi province public security department, he was now a menace to be silenced at once.

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