Charles Xue Biqun

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Charles Xue Biqun, a Chinese-born American billionaire venture capitalist and a prominent microblogger, was detained on August 23, 2013, in connection with alleged involvement in prostitution, according to Beijing police. He was put under administrative detention, whereby individuals are imprisoned without trial. It is not clear if Xue has been officially charged.

Xue appeared in a 30-minute program on CCTV in September in prison garb, and confessed to being an “irresponsible opinion leader” and not for soliciting prostitutes. At the end of the program, Xue expressed his support for recent judicial guidelines that define and outlaw false online rumors, saying that they would “restore order” in the online world.

Xue’s Weibo microblog had 12 million followers, and critics have said that the allegations against Xue were fabricated in reprisal for his online comments. He was known for his investing tips and commentary on social issues, such as child trafficking and the underprivileged, according to The New York Times. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times paper, said, “It is a universal ruse by governments around the world to use sex scandals or tax evasion charges to frame political rivals,” according to the South China Morning Post.

Although Xue is not a professional journalist, CPJ determined that he was jailed in connection with his news-based commentary published on the Internet. Authorities detained scores of people starting in August 2013 in a stepped-up campaign to banish online commentary that, among other issues, casts the government in a critical light, according to Chinese media and human rights groups. Many have been released, but some were still being held on criminal accusations.