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China 28 July 2005

Cyber-dissident held for past two months on libel charge

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of cyber-dissident Li Jianping (photo) since 28 May in the eastern province of Shandong, where he faces prosecution for posting many articles and comments on websites based abroad. He is the 64th cyber-dissident or Internet user to be imprisoned in China.

"Arrest and criminal prosecution for defamation are contrary to international standards on free expression and we urgently call for the immediate release of Li, whose only crime has been to express his views on such issues as democracy," the press freedom organisation said.

Foreign-based websites barred to Chinese Internet users such as Boxun News, ChinaEWeekly, China Democracy and Epoch Times were regularly used by Li to post articles criticising some of the practices of the leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China. He had been harassed by the authorities because of the articles for several weeks before his arrest.

The local police summoned him on 25 May and confiscated his passport. He then received several visits by officials from the Internet controlcommittee, who searched his home and examined the contents of his computer’s hard drive. His computer was seized at the time of his arrest.

His wife, Xuhui, said his medical equipment wholesale business could have to close as a result of his arrest. She and their three-year-old daughter are running out of money.

Aged 39, Li was formally placed under arrest on 30 June. He is being held in the city of Zibo (in Shandong province), where he is waiting to be told of the exact charges against him. The police have refused his requests to receive a visit from his wife.

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