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China 11 July 2006

Blogger Hao Wu freed after being held for five months

Reporters Without Borders voiced “immense relief” at the news of the release today of blogger and documentary filmmaker Hao Wu after nearly five months in detention. His release was announced on her blog by his sister, Na Wu.

“Let us not forget, however, that Hao was kidnapped by the Chinese security services, which violated his most basic rights by claiming that his case was a matter of national security,” the press freedom organisation said.

“At the same time, 50 other people are currently in prison in China for writing about ‘subversive’ subjects online,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “China is by far the world’s biggest prison for bloggers and cyber-dissidents. We would also like to pay tribute to the courage of this blogger’s sister, who battled relentlessly for his release.”

Hao was arrested on 22 February while preparing a report about an underground Protestant church. He was held in isolation for 140 days, during which he was never allowed to receive the help of a lawyer. The Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) never revealed the reasons for his arrest. He was said to be “under house arrest” but he was never allowed to receive a visit from his relatives or to telephone them. The PSB said this was necessary because there had been a “breach of national security.”

Reporters Without Borders wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao in March asking him to intercede on Hao’s behalf. The organisation also addressed requests for help to the European Union, including a 10 July letter to European Parliament president Josep Borrell asking him to raise the cases of Hao and two other imprisoned cyber-dissidents during his 8-14 July visit to China. This request was made just four days after the European Parliament adopted a resolution about online free expression that mentioned Hao.

Hao had a blog called Beijing or Bust in which he wrote under the pseudonym of Beijing Loafer. His sister, Na, kept a blog all the time he was detained in which she reported on her fight to have him freed.

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