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Journalist and photographer detained by authorities following publication of article on official corruption

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is seriously concerned about the detention of journalist Qi Chonghuai, who has been detained since 25 June 2007, apparently for his publication of an article on official corruption. International PEN fears that Qi may be detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and if so calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

According to PEN's information, Qi was arrested from his home in Jinan, the capital province of Shandong, eastern China, on 25 June following the publication of an article on official corruption. His press card and computer equipment were reportedly confiscated. He was initially accused of "deception" for allegedly misrepresenting himself as a journalist, before being formally charged with "blackmail" on 2 August. He was held incommunicado until his formal arrest. No evidence has been brought forward to support the charge, and Qi is held at the Detention Center of Tengzhou City pending further investigation.

Qi was arrested following the publication of an article alleging corruption in the Tengzhou Communist Party, which was published in June 2007 on the Xinhuanet website. Freelance photographer Ma Shiping was arrested on 16 June in connection with photos published in the article, and after Qi's public support of Ma, the authorities reportedly sought to discredit Qi.

From 2004 to 2006, Qi worked for various publications, including the "Shangdong Zhoukan" ("Shandon Weekly"), the "Renmin Gong'an Bao" ("People's Public Security News"), and the "Zhongguo Anquan Shengchan Bao". In June 2006, he started work as director of the newspaper "Fazhi Zaobao" ("Legal System Morning News"), which ceased publishing in December 2006 and was reformed with its existing staff as the "Fazhi Ribao" (weekend edition of the "Legal System Daily"). He has also worked as special correspondent with the "Fazhi Zhoubao" ("Legality Weekly") and the "Jizhe Guancha" ("Journalist Observer"), and is known for his reporting on corruption and social injustice in Shangdong province.

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