Wife of CPJ award-winner detained

New York, April 9, 2002–The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the detention of Li Yanling, wife of Jiang Weiping, imprisoned journalist and recipient of CPJ’s 2001 International Press Freedom Award. On March 18, Li was detained after being called in for questioning by security officials in Dalian, where the couple live, according to CPJ sources.

CPJ fears that Li Yanling may have been detained because her husband’s case has received significant international attention. However, Chinese journalists contacted by CPJ were unsure why authorities would target Li. They said she has not spoken to foreign journalists or contacted international organizations, including CPJ, precisely because she did not want to risk further harm to her family.

“This detention compounds the great injustice that was done when Jiang was jailed,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Li should be released immediately, along with her husband.”

Jiang Weiping, former northeast China bureau chief of the Hong Kong­based Wen Hui Bao newspaper, was arrested in December 2000 after writing several stories about local corruption for Qianshao (Frontline), a Hong Kong­based monthly. Though the Chinese government has called on the media to help root out corruption by exposing official wrongdoing, journalists who do so face frequent persecution or even imprisonment.

Following a secret trial on September 5, 2001, Jiang was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges including “endangering national security.” Li Yanling has not been allowed to visit or speak with Jiang since his arrest.

In early December 2001, Li wrote a letter to President Jiang Zemin calling for her husband’s release, according to the Hong Kong­based Yazhou Zhoukan magazine. In the letter, she stated that Jiang Weiping suffered from a serious stomach disorder and had been unable to receive treatment in prison.

On November 20, 2001, CPJ honored Jiang with an International Press Freedom Award and later sent letters from almost 600 supporters to President Jiang Zemin calling for the journalist’s release.

Li and Jiang have a young daughter, who is currently staying with relatives.