Taipei, October 25, 2019 — Chinese authorities must immediately release journalist Sophia Huang Xueqin and drop all charges against her, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 17, police in Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, arrested Huang, a freelance journalist who has written about sexual harassment in China and the ongoing Hong Kong protests, according to news reports and a friend of the journalist who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal from authorities.
Guangzhou police accused Huang of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to those reports. Huang’s most recent publications on her blog include two stories documenting her participation in protests in Hong Kong, published in June, and one story on a sexual harassment case in Chengdu, Sichuan province, published in July.
Protests in Hong Kong began in June over a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be tried in mainland Chinese courts, as CPJ reported at the time. The bill was formally withdrawn on October 23, according to news reports.
“Chinese authorities must stop using the vague charge of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ to detain journalists like Sophia Huang Xueqin,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Huang’s arrest is obviously in retaliation for her coverage on the Hong Kong protests and gender issues in China, and she should be released and allowed to work freely as a journalist.”
Huang is being held at the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau’s Baiyun district detention center, according to those news reports. When CPJ called the detention center, an officer said that only family members were allowed to make inquiries about detainees, and refused to disclose any information about Huang’s case.
Huang previously worked as an investigative reporter for Chinese-language outlets Xinquaibao and Southern Metropolis Weekly, according to news reports.
At least 47 journalists were imprisoned in China at the end of 2018, making it the second-largest jailer of journalists worldwide, after Turkey, according to CPJ’s annual prison census.