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Two journalists forced out of city of residence, their employment interrupted, over critical articles

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Condemns Strong-arm Tactics Against Freelance Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the detention and sacking of a freelance journalist in Shenzhen last month.

Liu Shui, a veteran journalist and freelance writer, was dropped from a financial magazine in Shenzhen in early May due to articles he wrote in 2006 exposing torture and inhumane conditions in a detention centre in Shenzhen.

A source, speaking to the IFJ on condition of anonymity, revealed that the magazine planned to recruit Liu Shui as an editor last month. However, Shenzhen police approached the magazine and demanded Liu not be employed. The police reportedly told the magazine that the order came directly from the Shenzhen Government.

Police then detained Liu for about 10 hours before ordering him to leave Shenzhen within three days as he no longer had work or temporary residence in the city.

The source said that police do not have the right to interfere with the employment of journalists, but often do so.

Liu Shui was a student leader in Lanzhou, Gansu, during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Liu has worked as a journalist for Nan Fang Du Shi Bao and Shenzhen Wan Bao, and has been detained four times due to articles relating to government malpractices and for editing The Truth About June 4th, a book dealing with the Tiananmen Square "incident".

Another writer, Xiong Zhongjun, who writes under the pen name of Chen Yiming, was ordered to leave Shenzhen last month for publishing articles detailing the arrest of more than 1000 activists during anti-Japan demonstrations in 2004. Xiong was detained for more than two months on charges of "inciting subversion of state power".

"Direct interference in journalists' employment due to the content of their work is a flagrant breach of media freedom," said IFJ Asia-Pacific.

"Despite small steps in the right direction, China's actions continue to call into question its commitment to a free media as the Olympic Games approach."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

For further information on the prior harassment of Xiong Zhongjun and Liu Shui, see:

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