Police arrested Zeng, an Internet writer, on June 9 and provided her family with official notice that she was detained on a charge of illegally providing information overseas, according to the Chinese Web site 6-4tianwang and the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Zeng’s home in Mianyang, northwest Sichuan, was damaged by the May 12 earthquake, according to Zhang Yu of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. She wrote three articles about her experiences in connection with the disaster, which included criticism of Mianyang authorities, and e-mailed them to overseas Chinese-language Web sites in May. They were circulated to several sites, including the U.S.-based China Information Center which published them under the pen name Shan Shan, according to a statement posted on the site.
One of the essays discussed a popular point of online criticism: that a Mianyang official, Tan Li, appeared to be smiling broadly while touring scenes of destruction after the quake. It was not clear why Zeng’s essays were singled out among many discussing similarly sensitive topics in the quake’s aftermath.
Zeng is a retired university professor, according to 6-4tianwang, whose founder, Huang Qi, was also arrested the day after the site reported Zeng’s detention.
The Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in July that the case had been passed to the prosecutor’s office in Mianyang and was pending trial. CPJ was unable to confirm a report, given orally to a family friend by an officer at the Mianyang police station, that she had been given an extrajudicial sentence of one and a half years’ re-education through labor. Zeng’s husband did not return phone calls.