Ding Lingjie

Tweet: #China ranks as one of the worst jailers of journalists. Reporter Ding Lingjie should be released immediately along with all press behind bars #freethepress

Police detained Ding Lingjie, an editor of the human rights news website Minsheng Guancha,while she was visiting relatives in Zibo city, Shandong province, on September 22, 2017, according to media reports. When Ding’s relative came home on September 23, she found that the house had been raided and that Ding, along with her computer, cellphone, and other belongings, was missing.

When Ding’s family called the local police station to report her missing, a police officer told the family that the Shijingshan branch of the Beijing municipal police had detained the journalist, according to Xu Qin, an independent human rights researcher who started “Ding Lingjie Watch,” a microblog discussion group on WeChat to raise public awareness of Ding’s disappearance.

When CPJ called the Zichuan police station in Zibo, the officer who answered the phone immediately hung up at the mention of CPJ’s name. CPJ called the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Shijingshan Branch for comment, and again the police officer who answered the call hung up at the mention of CPJ.

According to Radio Free Asia, Ding’s lawyer Ren Quanniu requested to meet with his client after learning that Ding might be detained at the Shijingshan Detention Center. Although Ren’s first request was rejected by authorities, on November 8, authorities finally allowed Ding to meet with her lawyer, according to the Radio Free Asia report. Ren told Radio Free Asia that Ding suffers from hyperostosis and that authorities told him the reason for the arrest was that Ding “insulted the state leader.”

On April 2, 2018, the Shijingshan Procuratorate–an agency responsible for prosecutions and investigations–charged Ding with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” according to a report in Radio Free Asia that cited Ding’s lawyer. The lawyer, Ren, told CPJ the court will decide on May 17 whether to indict Ding.

Art by Jack Forbes