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China 26 December 2003

Charges dropped against young Internet-user Liu Di

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the news that charges have been dropped against young Internet-user Liu Di. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that the Beijing prosecutor had told the 23-year-old student that her offence was "slight". The Public Security Department had been unable to prove her guilt. Liu Di was released on bail on 28 November. She had been held in solitary confinement since November 2002 for posting messages on Internet discussion forums under the pseudonym "Stainless Steel Mouse". At least three cyberdissidents, including Du Daobin, are currently in prison for having joined a solidarity campaign for Liu Di. Hundreds of Chinese Internet-users signed a petition calling for her release.


Young Internet user Liu Di released on bail

China has freed Internet user Liu Di on bail. Her family confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that police released her from secret detention on 28 November and that she had returned to her home in Beijing. The 23-year-old student had been detained in secret since November 2002 after she posted messages on online discussion forums under the pseudonym "stainless steel mouse". Two other cyberdissidents Wu Yiran, 34, and Li Yibin, 29, were also freed the same day.

At least two people have been imprisoned for protesting online about Liu Di’s detention without trial. During 2003, hundreds of Chinese people took the risk of signing an online petition calling for her release.

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the releases. The international press freedom organisation however pointed out that more than 40 cybersdissidents remained in jail in China for posting messages on the Internet that were critical of the authorities. In November alone, eight of them were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to ten years."The Chinese government is making a positive gesture towards the international community," said Robert Ménard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders. "However we condemn the hypocrisy of the Chinese justice system, which acts for the sake of appearances for diplomatic reasons, but continues to crack down on freedom of expression on the Internet on a daily basis.

These releases come three days ahead of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s visit to China and one week before Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao travels to the United States. The German government recently expressed its concern at China’s curbs on freedom of expression on the Internet.


Prosecutors ask police for more evidence against detained psychology student Liu Di

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed a request by the Beijing prosecutor’s office for police to carry out additional enquiries in the case against psychology student Liu Di, who has been held since November 2002 because of messages she posted on Internet chat forums.

The request confirmed the lack of evidence against Liu and highlighted the arbitrary nature of police arrests in China.

Reporters Without Borders called on justice minister Zhang Fusen to intercede with public security minister Zhou Yongkang to obtain Liu’s release. "The Chinese justice system has clearly cast doubt on the investigative work of the Beijing police. This request by the prosecutor’s office makes it very hard for the Chinse authorities to justify keeping Liu Di in detention," the organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard, said.

Liu’s father, Liu Qinghua, confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that the prosecutor’s office had made the request. Liu’s grandmother, Liu Heng, appealed to the Chinese authorities: "If my daughter is guilty, then bring her to trial. Otherwise she should be allowed to come home."

Charged with "threatening state security," Liu has been held in an undisclosed located since 7 November 2002. Using the pseudonym "the rust-free mouse," she posted messages urging fellow Internet users to "ignore the Chinese regime’s propaganda" and to "live in full freedom." She also criticised the arrest of website creator Huang Qi on 3 June 2000 for posting articles considered by the authorities to be subversive.

A "mock detention" campaign was launched on 4 October in which people were urged to shut themselves away in the dark for a day in a symbolic gesture of support for the imprisoned Liu. One of the organisers of this campaign, Du Daobin, was himself arrested on 28 October.

The text of this release is available in English, Spanish and French on the Reporters Without Borders website at http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=272


Over 13 years ago, Reporters without Borders created its "Sponsorship Programme" and called upon the international media to select and support an imprisoned journalist. One hundred and twenty news staffs around the globe are thus sponsoring colleagues by regularly petitioning authorities for their release and by publicising their situations so that their cases will not be forgotten. Currently, Liu Di is sponsored by : Elle, Association, 29 Rue Blanche, Flair/L’hebdo, RTBF (TV), Fun Radio (Belgique).




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