Wang, publisher of two Chinese-language magazines in Hong Kong-New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face-and Guo, a reporter for the magazines, were detained by police in the southern city of Shenzhen on May 30, 2014, and accused of operating an illegal publication and suspicion of illegal business operations. Liu Haitao, an editorial assistant at the magazines, was detained on June 17, 2014, on the same accusations. Liu did not appear on CPJ’s 2014 prison census because the organization was unaware of his arrest.
According to a Hong Kong media report, Wang’s wife was also placed under criminal detention on May 30, 2014, and her house was raided the same day. She was held overnight and released on bail. In April 2015, Wang’s wife published an open letter on the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun calling for the release of her husband.
Oiwan Lam, founder of Inmedia, an independent media outlet promoting free speech, told CPJ that Wang and Guo were known as politically well-connected journalists who frequently reported insider information and speculation on political affairs in China. In an editorial, the Hong Kong- and Taiwan-based newspaper Apple Daily described Wang’s magazines as being “close” to the political factions of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin and former Vice President Zeng Qinghong.
Sham Yee Lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, told CPJ that the arrests were part of a wider attempt to suppress the freewheeling publishing industry in Hong Kong.
At a hearing on November 5, 2015, the three journalists and Wang’s wife pleaded guilty to the illegal business charges, according to news reports. Wang also pleaded guilty to additional charges of bribery and bid rigging in relation to his other businesses in China, the Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper Ming Pao reported. CPJ was unable to determine when the additional charges were brought against Wang. No verdict was given during the trial, according to news reports.
The journalists were being held in Nanshan Detention Center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, according to the human rights group, Independent Chinese PEN Center.