New York, June 18, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Chinese authorities to immediately release Wang Jing, a journalist who has been imprisoned since December and whose health has deteriorated in custody.
Wang’s lawyer, Li Weida, visited the journalist on June 10 in a detention center in Jilin City, Jilin Province, according to a June 11 report by Radio Free Asia and a report by the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders. He said that Wang suffers from a brain tumor and that her condition has worsened in custody. Li said that Wang, who is being held on accusations of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” was denied bail on May 30, the reports said.
“Detaining Wang Jing for half a year is one more indicator of the increasingly dire state of media freedom under President Xi Jinping,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “We call on Chinese authorities to release Wang immediately so she can get the health care that is her right.”
Wang, who was working as a volunteer journalist for the independent human rights news website 64 Tianwang, was arrested on December 10, 2014, while photographing protesters near the Beijing headquarters of the state-run broadcasting agency China Central Television, according to news reports citing Huang Qi, founder and editor of the website. Wang’s lawyer at the time said she was then transferred to a detention center in her hometown of Jilin. The Chinese Human Rights Defenders cited her lawyer as saying she was beaten repeatedly by local police and force-fed after she waged hunger strikes to protest her mistreatment.
Huang told CPJ that it was “highly possible” that Wang Jing would stand trial since she was arrested while on bail for an earlier arrest. In March 2014, Wang was detained by Chinese authorities after she and two other volunteer journalists published a report on 64 Tianwang about a self-immolation attempt and the defacing of a portrait in Tiananmen Square, news reports said. She was held on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” but was released on bail about a month later, the reports said. She was not formally charged at the time.
“That’s Wang Jing. She’s never been afraid of the authorities,” said Huang, who has himself been jailed several times.
With 44 other journalists in prison, China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to a prison census conducted by CPJ in December. Twenty-nine of the journalists were held on anti-state charges.