Chinese labor rights journalist Wei Zhili is being held in pretrial detention on accusations of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Shenzhen police arrested Wei on March 20, 2019.
Wei is a reporter and editor for the labor rights news website Xinshengdai (New Generation), formerly known as ILabour.net. He covered labor rights issues and the prevalence of black lung disease among Chinese workers, along with editor-in-chief Yang Zhengjun and editor Ke Chengbing, who were also arrested by Shenzhen police, according to news reports and Wei’s wife, the feminist writer Zheng Churan, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app in September 2019.
Shenzhen police took Wei from his parents’ house in Guangzhou on March 20, 2019, for allegedly “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” in apparent retaliation for his reporting, according to Zheng and news reports. Wei, Yang, and Ke were originally held at Shenzhen City No. 2 Detention Center, but were moved to undisclosed locations before their detentions could reach the center’s 37-day limit for criminal detention, according to ILabour.net.
On August 5, 2019, Shenzhen police told Wei’s family that the trio had been transferred back to the No. 2 Detention Center and were “formally arrested,” Zheng said. Zheng told CPJ that authorities forced Wei to dismiss his lawyer.
An officer at the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau told CPJ in a phone call that he had no information regarding Wei’s case in late 2019 In late 2020, the number listed on the bureau’s website was no longer in service. CPJ contacted Wei, Ke, and Yang’s families but they declined to comment in late 2020.
CPJ was unable to determine Wei’s state of health as of late 2020.