China releases journalists from prison

As in past years, China in 2014 arrested some journalists and activists in the run-up to the anniversary of the massacre of protesters in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. This year, journalists were also arrested in possible connection to an ongoing police probe into prominent human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and for reporting on protests that took place in Beijing in March. By July 2014, CPJ had documented the arrests of at least 9 journalists since the beginning of the year. Of those, four were subsequently released.

Xin Jian, a Chinese national who worked as a news assistant for Japanese financial newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun, was arrested on May 13, 2014, and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to news reports. She was released on June 7, 2014. Chinese authorities did not respond to the newspaper’s request for details regarding the allegations against her, according to reports. It is unclear whether she has been formally charged.

Friends of Xin told CPJ they believe she was arrested to assist with the investigation into Pu, who was detained in early May 2014 on charges of “creating a disturbance and stirring up trouble” after he attended a memorial event for the Tiananmen crackdown. Xin had interviewed Pu along with a newspaper reporter, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said in a statement.

Three volunteer journalists for the independent human rights news website 64 Tianwang who were arrested on March 9, 2014, in Beijing were also released, reports said. Liu Xuehong and Xing Jian were released on bail on April 7, 2014, and Wang Jing was released on a later date, according to Radio Free Asia and news reports.

The three journalists had reported on the treatment of citizens who were petitioning the central government about their grievances, according to reports. They were arrested after they published reports on 64 Tianwang about a self-immolation attempt and the defacing of a portrait of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square. All three were held on “suspicion of stirring up trouble,” reports said. It is unclear whether they were formally charged.

At least five journalists arrested by Chinese authorities in 2014 were still behind bars: veteran journalist Gao Yu, who was reported missing in April 2014, was detained by authorities and accused of leaking a confidential Communist Party document; Boxun News contributor Xiang Nanfu was arrested in May 2014 and accused of fabricating stories that harmed China’s image; Hong Kong book publisher Yao Wentian was given 10 years in jail in May 2014 on smuggling charges as he prepared to release a book critical of President Xi Jinping; and Hong Kong-based magazine journalists Wang Jianmin and Guo Zhongxiao were detained in May 2014 for “operating an illegal publication,” according to reports.