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China 7 March 2003

Young Internet user Liu Di secretly detained for four months

(JPEG) For four months now, psychology student Liu Di has been detained by the police and her family has still not been permitted to see her. The authorities accuse her of having threatened national security and contend that they are keeping her in a secret place to put "pressure" on her. But according to her close friends and relatives, Liu Di was merely expressing on the Internet her desire for freedom.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) deplores the way in which 22-year-old Liu Di has been treated since her arrest in November 2002, and asks: How can a young Internet user with no political affiliation whatsoever pose any threat to the security of the People’s Republic of China? The organisation requests that Liu Di be immediately released and that the charges against her be dismissed. Reporters without Borders also recalls that China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Liu Di’s family confirmed to Reporters without Borders that the young net surfer is being secretly detained and the police refuse to reveal her place of confinement. Her parents have received just two short messages from their daughter, who asked them for money. They were allowed to leave some clothes and money in a police station but received no assurance that they would be delivered to their daughter.

Since Liu Di’s arrest, the police merely told her family that she had been arrested for having threatened national security. According to police, they had to maintain "pressure" on the student during the inquiry. Her parents are worried about what the police may really mean by the word "pressure," even though the latter claim that she is in good health.

Liu Di’s father explained to Reporters without Borders that he could not understand why his daughter-who signed her Internet messages "Stainless Steel Mouse"-was imprisoned for posing a threat to national security. "She loved to surf the Web to look up information. But she was frustrated by the lack of freedom on-line and may have expressed some criticism or sarcasm without ever thinking of the possible consequences of such messages," Liu Qinghua added.

Police officers have also warned the family that the nature of this case might change if the foreign media, human rights organisations or Chinese dissidents were to cause a stir over Liu Di’s case.

On 7 November 2002, the day before the inauguration of the 16th Chinese Communist Party Congress, Liu Di had been arrested on the campus of Beijing University. Her family was only informed of her arrest when the police arrived to search her home, at which time they confiscated her notes, her books and her computer.

At least 36 cyber-dissidents are still behind bars in China.




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