Taipei, March 9, 2021—Chinese authorities must stop harassing formerly imprisoned journalist Lu Yuyu, founder of Not News, and allow him to live where he wishes and travel freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Chinese national security officers in Guangzhou city broke into Lu’s apartment today and forced him to leave the city, Lu told CPJ via a messaging app. Lu told CPJ that approximately eight officers in plainclothes and uniforms forced their way into his apartment and refused to show him their identifications. The officers asked Lu to deactivate his account on Twitter. “They said if I don’t shut up on Twitter, they would have to keep harassing me,” Lu said. When Lu told the officers that he had deleted most of the sensitive tweets, one officer said, “’It’s because you have clout. If you cancel your Twitter account, no one will harass you again,’” Lu told CPJ.
“It’s time for Chinese authorities to stop harassing journalist Lu Yuyu and let him get on with his life,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “Lu has committed no crime and his continued abuse by Chinese authorities only exposes their lawless and arbitrary behavior.”
Lu was sentenced to four years in prison in 2017, after documenting demonstrations against land grabs, wage disputes, pollution, and alleged government corruption across the country on his blog Not News with another journalist, Li Tingyu. He suffered beatings in prison and has been repeatedly harassed since he was freed last year, as CPJ has reported.
Since Lu’s release from prison in June 2020, police have been tracking him wherever he goes and forcing him to relocate, as well as warning him to stop circumventing the country’s internet firewall, according to an interview he gave The Wall Street Journal in November. While Chinese diplomats often use the social media platform to carry out propaganda campaigns and defend Chinese Communist Party policies, Twitter is blocked in the country. Some Chinese citizens use virtual private networks (VPNs) to access it. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 50 people have been jailed for their posts on the platform.