Taipei, August 15, 2022 – Chinese authorities should immediately release and drop all charges against journalist Mao Huibin and allow the press to report freely on social issues, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
At 10 a.m. on August 9, police arrested Mao at his home in Hengshui City, according to the journalist’s wife, Wang Huidi, who spoke to CPJ by phone and new reports. Mao is a freelance journalist who contributes health and social news to freelance blogs Nutritionist Huihui and World Hui Hui on the Chinese social network WeChat, according to these sources.
On July 17, Mao issued a article on Huihui World asking the whereabouts of the victims of a June 2022 attack in the northeastern city of Tangshan, in which a group of men assaulted four women who rejected their sexual advances in a barbecue restaurant. On July 18, he published a video of the assault on nutritionist Huihui.
Since June, journalists traveling to Tangshan to cover the aftermath of the brutal attack have encountered obstruction from local authorities, including harassment and detention by Tangshan police, as CPJ has documented.
Mao was charged with the crime of “causing quarrels and causing trouble” by Tangshan police, who went to Hengshui City to arrest Mao, and is being held in the city’s No. 1 Detention Center. of Tangshan, according to Wang and the news. If found guilty, Mao faces up to 5 years in prison, according to the criminal code.
“Tangshan police must release Mao Huibin immediately and drop all charges against him,” CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg said in New York. “Journalists have the right to report news that is important to the Chinese public.”
Wang said Mao’s only connection to Tangshan City was the articles he published about the Tangshan attacks. Wang told CPJ that she drove for six hours on the night of August 11 from Hengshui to the Tangshan City Public Security Bureau to inquire about her husband’s whereabouts and that the police told her. said she had no right to know.
“The police told me not to put any information about my husband’s arrest on the internet, saying it would affect the case, my husband, me and my children. I think they are threatening me,” Wang told CPJ. “As a journalist, Mao knew how to check facts and verify his sources. He also has the right to publish what he believes to be true. The authorities have no right to arrest him on false charges.
CPJ called the Tangshan Public Security Bureau, but no one answered.
According to CPJ’s latest prison census, at least 50 journalists were imprisoned in China as of December 1, 2021, making it the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the third consecutive year.