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Paper calls again for journalist’s release

Global Times (2013-10-25 P04)
By Zhang Xiaobo
A Guangzhou-based newspaper on Thursday again called on its front page to release one of its reporters, who is under criminal detention for allegedly fabricating facts about a partly State-owned enterprise, while the legality of the detention has been under national scrutiny.

New Express, the newspaper, stated in its front page editorial that the Changsha police should not have detained the reporter without solid grounds.

Chen Yongzhou, a journalist with New Express, published a series of reports about the Changsha-based Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development (Zoomlion), a leading construction machinery company, since September 2012, accusing the company of hiding severe financial problems.

Chen was captured in Guangzhou last week by police from Changsha, Hunan Province.

The Changsha Public Security Bureau replied on Thursday through its official Sina Weibo that the case is under investigation in accordance with the law, and the police will make timely updates to the public.

New Express also asked to resolve the issue under legal procedures.

The All-China Journalists Association, an organization to protect the legal rights of reporters, has also started an investigation to the case. A Thursday statement released on the official website of the association said that they would keep paying close attention to the case, hoping the Changsha authorities release a convincing statement with a solid judicial basis.

An official with the association also told the Global Times earlier that they would punish Chen according to relevant regulations if they found him to have violated professional ethics.

Zoomlion claimed that Chen was implicated in fabricating facts, including accusing the company of loss of State assets and financial fraud, without solid investigation. The reports motivated the company to make a report to local police and had Chen detained for "allegedly damaging business reputation."

Many people and social organizations showed their support for the paper and Chen. Capital Week, a leading finance magazine, released a statement on its website Wednesday, saying that incorrect news reports would harm the media's reputation. However, they added, public security authorities should not confuse professional and personal behaviors of a reporter and interfere with media's supervision rights across the legal boundary.

"It is rare to see media posing such a challenging attitude to authority in China," Song Jianwu, dean of the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times, adding that despite the overwhelming concerns over the case, both sides should behave according to the law.

"The police should release the reporter as soon as possible if Chen is found not suitable for prosecution under the Criminal Law," Song noted.

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