China detains journalist amid widening crackdown

Hong Kong, May 29, 2014–Another journalist has been detained in China ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention of Xin Jian, who was arrested on May 13 and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

The Japanese financial newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun (NIKKEI) published an article on its website on Wednesday that said Xin, who worked as a news assistant in its bureau in the southwestern city of Chongqing, had been arrested at her home in that city. The paper said authorities had initially told Xin’s family she was detained to assist with the ongoing investigation into prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Xin had recently helped conduct an interview with Pu, according to the paper. Pu, a student leader during the 1989 protests and a well-known advocate for rule of law and free expression in China, was detained in early May for attending a seminar on the Tiananmen crackdown, according to reports.

According to The New York Times, authorities detained several of Pu’s friends and colleagues amid their investigation into the lawyer. “Friends say they are unclear why the authorities detained Ms. Xin, although some thought it might be related to an earlier interview she conducted with Mr. Pu,” the report said. It is not clear whether Xin has been formally charged.

“Each year in the run-up to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings, China tries to intimidate journalists into silence. The 25th anniversary seems to have prompted an even broader crackdown,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney from New York. “The authorities must release Xin Jian and all detained journalists immediately and allow them to work without fear and harassment.”

Xin’s mother told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her daughter had been detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Xin is being held in a detention center in Beijing, according to news reports.

Xin’s arrest comes amid a widening clampdown in which at least a dozen journalists, lawyers, dissidents, and academics have been detained ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square, according to news reports. Chinese authorities warned foreign media of “extreme consequences” if they report on sensitive issues related to the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.