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China 17 February 2004

Cyber-dissident Du Daobin formally charged with subversion

Reporters Without Borders today accused the Chinese authorities of "obstinately refusing to respect free expression," after they finally formalized the arrest of detained cyber-dissident Du Daobin by charging him with "inciting subversion of the state and the overthrow of the Chinese socialist system" in some 30 articles he posted online.

"There is absolutely no justification for imprisoning people who just share their ideas on the Internet," Reporters Without Borders said, pointing out that free expression is supposed to be guaranteed by article 35 of the Chinese constitution.

The organisation urged all Internet users to sign a petition in support of Du, which can be accessed on the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org).

The announcement of the charges by the bureau for public security in the eastern province of Hubei was the first official measure to be adopted by the government since Du’s arrest on 28 October. It appeared to dash any hope of his being freed soon.

His release had nonetheless seemed imminent just a few days ago when the regional prosecutor referred the case back to the police for lack of evidence.

The authorities claim that Du, 40, exceeded the right to criticise the government in the articles calling peacefully for more democracy which he posted online. His posts also called for the release of fellow cyber-dissident Liu Di (who was released on 28 November for lack of evidence) and criticised the proposed amendment of article 23 of the Hong Kong constitution, which would threaten free expression in the former British colony.

The petition calling for Du’s release, which was launched by Chinese intellectuals and journalists, already has about a thousand signatures. It is supposed to be submitted to the Chinese authorities on 1 March.

Sign the petition




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