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China 18 June 2008

Cyber-dissident held for “illegal possession of state secrets,” wife forbidden to visit him

Zheng Li, the wife of detained cyber-dissident Huang Qi, was today refused the right to visit him in the Chengdu detention centre where he has been for the past eight days. His mother was not allowed to see him yesterday, either. Only his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has the right to visit him.

Huang was arrested in Chengdu, the capital of the earthquake-hit province of Sichuan, on 10 June together with two colleagues, retired teacher Zuo Xiaohuan and Pu Fei, a volunteer who had been helping victims of the 12 May earthquake. The Chengdu police have accused Huang of “illegal possession of state secrets.” It is not know where or on what grounds Zuo and Pu are being held.

“Under Chinese law, any government document that has not been officially published can be used to accuse someone of illegal possession of state secrets,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is an arbitrary charge that makes it easy to jail government opponents.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We call on the authorities to free Huang. His health is worrying as he suffers from stomach ailments and violent headaches due to the mistreatment he underwent while detained from 2000 to 2005.”

The editor 64Tianwang, a news website founded by Huang, said he thought the arrest of the three men could be linked to the site’s publication of three articles by retired university professor Zheng Hongling criticising the way the authorities handled the aid which the international community contributed to the earthquake relief operations.

Natural disasters were withdrawn in September 2005 from the list of subjects classified as state secrets.


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