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China 6 December 2004

Arrest of poet and journalist Shi Tao

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrest of journalist Shi Tao and urged the EU delegation to the 8 December EU-China summit in the Netherlands to press China’s Premier Wen Jiabao to stop unfair arrests of journalists.

The worldwide press freedom organisation also called on the Chinese authorities to release Shi, arrested at his home in Taiyuan in Shanxi province in the north-east on 24 November 2004 for "disclosing confidential government information".

This latest arrest only adds to the relentless pressure suffered by journalists in China, the organisation said

National security bureau police from Changsha in the south, arrived at his home without official authorisation, arrested him and seized his computer and some personal files.

Before taking him away, they told his wife, Wang Huan, not to tell anyone about the arrest and certainly not the media, or her husband would be mistreated.

The 36-year-old poet and journalist worked until last May for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Trade News). He also contributed to several newspapers and had written a number of articles for online forums, particularly Min Zhu Lun Tan (Democracy Forum).

In a letter to his family, Shi said that he had been transferred to Changsha and reassured them that he was well. His brother, Shi Hua, however told Reporters Without Borders that his family was very worried.

They had only received a "detention letter" instead of, as the law demands, a "detention certificate" and were not allowed to visit him. They did not know what the real reasons for his imprisonment were.

Some 25 journalists and 62 cyberdissidents are currently imprisoned in China.

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