Chinese journalist Hu Yazhu is serving a sentence of 13 years on charges of extortion and accepting bribes. Guangzhou police arrested Hu, a reporter for Nanfang Daily, on June 21, 2013.
The Shaoguan People’s Procuratorate, a state legal body, issued a statement in June 2013 that said Hu and Liu Wei’an had been arrested in Guangdong province after confessing to accepting bribes while covering events in the northern city of Shaoguan.
Hu and Liu were sentenced to 13 years and 14 years in prison respectively in June 2014 for accepting bribes and for extortion, according to Shaoguan Daily, a government-run newspaper.
Hu, a staff reporter for the official Guangdong Communist Party newspaper Nanfang Daily, and Liu, a freelance writer, had both written articles published in 2011 in Nanfang Daily and on news websites about a dispute involving the illegal extraction of rare minerals in Shaoguan, according to news reports.
The prosecutors’ statement said Hu and Liu accepted 493,000 yuan (about US$82,200) in bribes. The pair were stripped of their press cards and banned from journalism for life, according to the National Radio and Television Administration.
Users on Weibo, China’s microblog service, said they suspected the reporters’ arrests were in retaliation for their reports that exposed problems in the government and judiciary.
According to Hu’s wife Zhan Ying, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, Hu appealed his conviction in 2015 and 2019, but both appeals were rejected.
Hu is being held in Tiebei Prison in Changchun, in Jilin province, as of late 2021, Zhan told CPJ. She said that Hu lost a lot of weight, some of his teeth fell out, and that his eyesight was deteriorating.
When CPJ called the Shaoguan City People’s Procuratorate for comment in late 2021, the person who answered the phone told CPJ that Hu’s case was closed and that all records should be at the court level. CPJ could not find any record of Hu or Liu’s cases on China Judgements Online, an official database of rulings.