Police in Mianyang city, Sichuan province, arrested Yang Xiuqiong on June 23, 2017, and charged the journalist with “illegally providing state secrets overseas,” according to news reports and a 64 Tianwang volunteer, whose name CPJ is withholding for fear that they might face retaliation. Yang, who has been detained by police several times in the past, was arrested after authorities charged her in the same criminal case as that of Huang Qi, the founder and publisher of the site, who was arrested on November 28, 2016.
Yang has been detained at least twice previously. On September 2, 2016, she was detained for reporting on protests at the September 2016 G-20 summit in Hangzhou, according to news reports. Yang was arrested again in November of that year and was released on bail that December. At the time, police warned her to “not interact with 64 Tianwang and Huang Qi,” according to Radio Free Asia.
Yang’s daughter told Radio Free Asia that a police station in Mianyang summoned Yang on June 23, 2017, and issued a warrant for her arrest on the same day. She also said Yang had been closely monitored by police after her release on bail in December 2016.
Sichuan human rights activist Wei Xiaobing has been trying to help Yang hire a lawyer. Wei said Yang’s arrest could be related to her interviews with foreign media or her close ties with Huang Qi, according to news reports.
Yang has been a frequent contributor to 64 Tianwang, reporting on protests and human rights issues, according to another volunteer of 64 Tianwang.
CPJ’s phone calls to the Mianyang Public Security Bureau seeking more information about Yang’s detention in late September went unanswered. As of late 2017, CPJ was unable to determine where Yang was being held.