Zhang Miao, a reporter for the German weekly Die Zeit, was released on July 9, 2015, after being imprisoned for more than nine months, according to news reports.
Zhang was arrested in Beijing in October 2014 and accused of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” news reports said. Zhang, who was working as a news assistant for Angela Köckritz, the then China correspondent for Die Zeit, was arrested the day after she returned from a trip to Hong Kong, where she had helped the weekly in its coverage of pro-democracy protests. Köckritz herself fled China a short while later, after being accused of being a spy, she wrote in Die Zeit.
Zhang was released after the Tongzhou People’s Procuratorate in Beijing decided not to file charges against her, Zhou Shifeng, Zhang’s lawyer, told CPJ on July 9. Zhou said the evidence against Zhang, which included a confession, had been obtained through coercion and should not be used, according to reports.
“Zhang looks fine. She is in good spirits,” Zhou told CPJ after she was freed.
On June 10, 2015, news accounts reported that Zhou had been taken from his hotel that morning by three unidentified men. Zhou’s partner, Liu Xiaoyuan, said the law firm had also lost contact with other lawyers.
“Zhou’s disappearance should be related to him representing Zhang Miao,” Liu told CPJ.
Chinese authorities are targeting rights lawyers while cracking down on civil society and rights activism, according to The Associated Press, which cited Zhou’s friends and associates. The report said that state media had accused rights lawyers of “stirring up trouble and sabotaging China’s legal system.”