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China 10 December 2002

Cyber-dissident held in secret for past month in Beijing

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) said today it was concerned about the physical treatment of a student, Liu Di (photo), who has been held secretly in Beijing for more than a month for posting on an Internet website articles criticising the grip of the Communist Party on Chinese society. She is already in poor health and is one of at least 32 cyber-dissidents being held in China, 16 of whom have been given prison sentences.

The organisation called on the country’s new president, Hu Jintao, to end her detention in secret, which contravenes the article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights signed by China.

Liu, a 22-year-old psychology student, was arrested on the Beijing University campus on 7 November, on the eve of the 16th Communist Party congress. Her family only learned she had been picked up when police arrived at their apartment and searched through her possessions, taking away her books, notes and computer.  Her parents took a change of clothes to the police station but were told they could not see her. There has been no news of her since then.

The dissident organisation China Labor Watch, which found out she had been arrested, said the authorities had not confirmed she was being held but that police told one of her teachers she had been arrested because of her links with an "illegal organisation." However her father said she had probably been detained because of her postings on the Internet.

Under the pseudonym of The Stainless Steel Mouse, she had urged Internet users to "ignore government propaganda" and "live in freedom." She also criticised the arrest of Huang Qi, the founder of a web site who has been in prison since 3 June 2000 for having posted online articles the authorities considered "subversive".

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