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China 25 March 2005

Journalist and cyber-dissident Zheng Yichun held on subversion charge

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of dissident journalist Zheng Yichun, whose arrest on 3 December for writing articles for publications and websites based abroad has only just emerged.

Zheng, who faces a heavy sentence on a charge of "subverting state power," is one of five dissident journalists to be arrested in the past four months, along with Zhang Lin, Shi Tao, Yang Tianshui and Li Boguang.

Reporters Without Borders said it was outraged by Zheng’s arrest and the subversion charge, as his only crime was to express his views in articles published abroad. "This wave of arrests of dissident journalists confirms the virulence of the government’s current campaign against liberal ideas and intellectuals," the organization said, calling for Zheng’s release.

Following his arrest by the Public Security Bureau on 3 December in Yingkou in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Zheng was initially held in a hotel. He was transferred to Panjin’s No.1 prison, in the same province, on 20 December. His lawyer, Li Ming-Chang, has been able to see him since his arrest.

His family was notified of the subversion charge by the Yingkou prosecutor’s office on 31 December. Relatives were warned that there would be reprisals if they informed the press or human rights organizations about his arrest. They only decided to talk about after his arrest was reported in a Yingkou daily newspaper on 24 February

The Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC) has learned that the prosecutor’s office is citing 63 of Zheng’s articles as evidence for the charges against him. They were among 300 articles which the police confiscated from his home.

Aged 48 and a member for the Korean minority, Zheng has had four collections of poems published in addition to some 200 political essays. Dozens of his articles have recently been published in newspapers such as Da Ji Yuan (Epoch Times) and websites such as Boxun and Min Zhu Lun Tan (Democratic Forum), which are all based abroad. Prior to his arrest, Zheng was also an English teacher at Liaoning university.

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