Taipei, April 14, 2020 — Chinese authorities must immediately release documentary filmmaker Chen Jiaping and drop all charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On March 5, police in Beijing detained Chen, a filmmaker who recently shot a documentary on Chinese activist and scholar Xu Zhiyong, according to an open letter written by his wife and shared on Facebook by the “Southern Idiot Observation Group,” a human rights group, on April 12.
Beijing’s Haidian Public Security Bureau is holding Chen under “residential surveillance at a designated location,” a form of extrajudicial detention, and he was charged with subversion of state power, according to the letter.
“Detaining Chen Jiaping for filming a documentary on a subject the Chinese government doesn’t like is absurd,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Chinese authorities should drop all charges against Chen Jiaping, release him immediately, and allow him to continue his work.”
Authorities repeatedly denied Chen’s wife’s requests to see the filmmaker and pressured her to keep quiet about the arrest, according to the letter. She published the letter on Chen’s 50th birthday on April 12, signed with “your love.” It does not include her name.
Police confiscated Chen’s unreleased documentary materials about Xu, who was arrested on February 15 in Guangzhou for attending a human rights activists’ gathering in late 2019, and told Chen’s wife that they worried the documentarian would continue to “make mistakes,” according to the letter and news reports.
When CPJ called the Haidian Public Security Bureau for comment, an officer said he was not familiar with Chen’s case, but said that the bureau complied with the law. He said if Chen broke the law, he would be a target for arrest.