Li Xinde

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Chinese journalist Li Xinde is serving a five-year prison sentence in Pizhou, Jiangsu province, on charges of operating an illegal business. The charges stem from his work at China Public Opinion Surveillance Net, a website he founded to document corruption. 

On October 23, 2019, 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 accused him of the same offense, according to that report. 

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.

On January 7, 2021, a court in Pizhou sentenced Li to five years in prison for operating an illegal business, according to news reports. The Pizhou People’s Procuratorate accused Li and Li Chao, who was sentenced to one year in prison on the same day, of accepting money and publishing fabricated articles, according to those reports.

CPJ contacted the Pizhou People’s Procuratorate through its website in September 2021, but did not receive any reply.