Police from Pizhou, Jiangsu province, arrested Li Xinde, founder of China Public Opinion Surveillance Net, in October 2019, in Beijing. He is being held on allegations of operating an illegal business.
China Public Opinion Surveillance Net is a news website that publishes stories about alleged official wrongdoing and corruption, according to the website’s about page.
On October 23, Pizhou police arrested Li in Beijing and accused him of operating a business illegally, according to a report by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia. On the same day, Pizhou police arrested his son, Li Chao, in Fuyang, the family’s hometown in Anhui province, and made the same accusation against him, according to that report. No formal charges or trial date were announced in either case, according to Radio Free Asia.
The arrests followed China Public Opinion Surveillance Net’s October 16, 2019, publication of an article alleging that the Second Intermediate People’s Court in the municipality of Tianjin had wrongfully convicted a businessman on charges of refusing to comply with a court order, and which referenced the chief of the Dongli district branch of Tianjin’s Public Security Bureau. On October 18, the website reported that it had received a call from the security bureau demanding the October 16 article be removed.
Li and China Public Opinion Surveillance Net gained international recognition after publishing a 2004 story with photos depicting a deputy mayor kneeling and begging not to be reported to authorities, according to news reports from the time.
CPJ could not determine where Li is being held as of late 2020, or why he was arrested by police from Pizhou, rather than by Beijing or Tianjin authorities.
CPJ called the Pizhou City Public Security Bureau in late 2020, but no one answered. CPJ was unable to find contact information for the Tianjin Public Security Bureau’s Dongli branch.
CPJ could not determine the health or legal status of Li Chao or Li Xinde as of late 2020.