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China 22 May 2006

Blogger still denied lawyer as he enters fourth month in detention

The Public Security Bureau’s formal refusal on 17 May to allow detained blogger and documentary filmmaker Hao Wu access to a lawyer on national security grounds is “absurd,” Reporters Without Borders said today, as Hao began his fourth month in detention.

“Hao’s case is emblematic of the PSB’s methods,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is farcical to treat this blogger as a threat to national security. Is there any serious possibility that letting a prisoner of conscience have a lawyer might destabilise the Chinese government?”

A formal request for Hao to be defended by a lawyer was filed with the PSB by his sister, Na Wu, who has reported on her blog (http://spaces.msn.com/wuhaofamily): “It appears that all efforts to seek legal help have reached a dead end.”

According to the authorities, Hao is currently under “house arrest.” He cannot receive visits or telephone his family. The PSB is also still refusing to tell him why he has been arrested. But it has reportedly undertaken to make a statement to the family by August, which would be six months after his arrest.

Hao had a blog called Beijing or Bust in which he wrote under the pseudonym of Beijing Loafer. He was also the North-East Asia editor of the website Global Voices, to which he contributed under the name of Tian Yi. He was arrested on 22 February while preparing a report on China’s underground protestant churches.

Global Voices has set up a Hao support site: http://ethanzuckerman.com/haowu


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