China: journalists detained on espionage and national security charges

  • 04 May 2023

The National Union of Journalists has joined the International Federation of Journalists in calling on the Chinese government to release journalists arbitrarily detained in recent weeks.

Dong YuYu, a senior columnist at the Chinese government-run newspaper Guangming Daily was arrested by authorities on espionage charges following a meeting with a Japanese diplomat in Beijing. He faces ten years imprisonment if convicted at trial.

Li Yanhe, Gusa Publishing House editor-in-chief, has also been detained and is under investigation for “‘engaging in activities endangering national security.” Yanhe operates under the pen name Fu Cha and has previously published critical books on the history and politics of China’s ruling Communist Party, including works on China’s alleged oppression of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, and the influence of Beijing’s media influence on journalists, outlets, and information landscapes globally.

Journalists in China have reported state surveillance and media restrictions negatively impacting press freedom. On 20 April journalist Fang Bin was released after serving a three-year prison sentence following his publication of videos of him reporting on Wuhan’s initial outbreak of the covid-19. Reports indicate he remains under strict state supervision.

The IFJ said:

“The arrest of Dong Yuyu and detention of Li Yanhe highlight the deep challenges faced by journalists and media workers in China. The IFJ condemns the arbitrary and excessive treatment of these two respected journalists and urges Chinese authorities to commit to protecting press freedom as is enshrined in its constitution, securing their immediate release and clearance of all charges."

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