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China 24 March 2006

Sister of Hao Wu challenges authorities over arrest of blogger

Reporters Without Borders has condemned as illegal, even under Chinese law, the continued imprisonment of blogger and documentary maker Hao Wu.

His sister, Na Wu, told the press freedom organisation that, more than one month after his arrest, the authorities still refuse to tell her what charges her brother faces.

She said, “We have only spoken to him on the phone three times. And each time, it has been he who has called, because we still do not know where he is being held. During these conversations, he tells us that everything is OK and we must not worry. He even said that he didn’t want a lawyer. But it was obvious that he could not speak freely. I went to the police station several times. They refused to give me a paper confirming the arrest of my brother. The first time they told me that he would be coming out within a few days. The second time, it was a few weeks. And now they tell me that I will have to wait another month. We have the right to know what is happening to him. He has done nothing that could harm society and there is no reason for him to be detained.”

Na Wu, who like her brother has lived for several years in the United States, said the family had managed to find two lawyers to defend him.


Blogger and documentary filmmaker held for the past month

Reporters Without Borders wrote to President Hu Jintao today asking him to intervene on behalf of documentary filmmaker Hao Wu, who was arrested in Beijing on 22 February after attending a meeting of members of a protestant church not recognised by the government as part of the preparation of his next documentary.

Hao, who lived for more than 10 years in the United States, is a contributor to Global Voices, a bloggers association that belongs to the Reporters Without Borders network of partner organisations.

"Hao’s only crime has been to do his job as journalist in an independent manner," Reporters Without Borders said in its letter to President Hu. The organisation also called on US diplomats to raise Hao’s case with the Chinese authorities, above all as part of the preparations for Hu’s visit to the United States next month.

Hao was detained by the Beijing division of the State Security Bureau, which has officially confirmed his arrest. Two days after his arrest, police raided his home, seizing videotapes and editing equipment. He has not been charges and the authorities have not explained why they are holding him. Global Voices said they authorities could be trying to get him to provide information about China’s underground Christian churches.

Hao’s family, which appears to be in contact with him, initially refused to publicise his arrest, hoping that he would be freed quickly. This is why the news of his arrest has taken a month to emerge.

In a blog called Beijing or Bust named after one of his documentaries, Hao writes under the pseudonym of "Beijing Loafer." As it is filtered by the authorities, he established a "mirror" site on another blog tool. He is also a contributor to Global Voices, writing in English under the pseudonym of Tian Yi, and he is its North-East Asia editor.

Global Voices has set up a support site for Hao:

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