Huang Qi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Police arrested Huang Qi, publisher of the human rights news website 64 Tianwang, in November 2016. He is serving a 12-year sentence on accusations of "deliberately leaking state secrets" and "illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries."

Police detained Huang outside his apartment complex in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, on November 28, 2016, according to media reports. More than 10 officers searched Huang’s home and detained his mother, Pu Wenqing, who was in his apartment at the time. Police took Pu to her home in the nearby city of Neijiang, where she found her residence had also been searched, according to media reports.

On December 16, 2016, police formally arrested Huang for “leaking state secrets to foreign entities.”

Huang founded 64 Tianwang in 1998 with his then-wife Zeng Li, as a missing-persons service. The website started covering issues not reported on by China’s mainstream news media, such as protests, allegations of government corruption and abuse of power, police brutality, and the detention of writers and activists. On November 23 and 25, 2016, 64 Tianwang reported on the arrests of demonstrators who were protesting the death of a petitioner allegedly beaten by government supporters. Huang told U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia that such reporting "could bring him trouble."

Huang and his staff were targeted by police harassment since he founded 64 Tianwang. In October 2016, police briefly detained Huang ahead of a gathering of the Chinese Communist Party Congress. Huang was jailed from 2000 to 2005 on charges of "subversion of state power" for articles posted on 64 Tianwang, and from 2008 to 2011 on charges of "illegally holding state secrets."

A volunteer for the website, Pu Fei, was detained for two weeks in 2008 after Huang was arrested. In April 2016, Wang Jing, a reporter at 64 Tianwang, was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble." She had been arrested on December 10, 2014, while photographing protesters near the Beijing headquarters of the state-run broadcasting agency China Central Television. 

The site has been blocked in China since March 2003 and is frequently targeted by hackers, according to Radio Free Asia.

According to meeting notes taken by Huang’s lawyer Liu Zengqing, Huang was interrogated 15 times starting on August 12, 2018. Liu did not know when the interrogations ended, nor was the time period indicated in the meeting notes. While being interrogated, Huang was not allowed to rest or use the toilet. A prosecutor named Du Peng hit him with a water bottle on his chest and injured him, according to copies of the notes provided to CPJ by Pu.

Since Huang’s arrest, authorities have disbarred two of his lawyers, Sui Muqing and Liu Zengqing, and Huang dismissed another lawyer, Li Jinglin, out of concern for the lawyer’s safety, according to news reports and CPJ documentation.

On July 29, 2019, the Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Huang to 12 years in prison on charges of "deliberately leaking state secrets," and "illegally providing state secrets to foreign countries," according to a statement published on the court’s website.  

As of October 2023, Huang was being held at Bazhong Prison in Sichuan province. Officials at the prison did not respond to CPJ’s message about Huang.