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Bloggers detained by police for online content

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 16, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns actions by Chinese authorities to locate and detain bloggers and delete online content and debate concerning controversial issues.

The IFJ received information that a blogger and signatory to the democratic reform and human rights-focused Charter 08 petition in China was reportedly detained by Mawei District Police in Fujian Province on July 16 in relation to comments he posted about the failure of police to properly report the suspicious death of a woman in hospital in February 2008.

Five bloggers, including human rights activists Fan Yanqiong and Wu Huaying, were detained in late June in relation to the same incident, some reports said.

Several other bloggers who posted a number of online articles criticising the police are also apparently being tracked by police.

All online articles and discussion forums related to the woman's death have been deleted from the Internet site or are no longer accessible.

Meanwhile, authorities in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's north-west have also heavily interfered with online reporting of riots between Uyghur and Han minorities since July 5.

The Xinjiang authorities announced on July 15 that 192 people died during the riots. According to a news report on the government-owned CCTV station on July 11, about 200 people were arrested.

One journalist and academic, Iham Tohti, is believed to have been arrested for articles posted on his website, Uyghur Online Web, on July 7 criticising the response of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional People's Government Chairman to the conflict.

Tohti reportedly told friends he received a "formal notice" from the authorities at midnight on July 7 referring to his online postings.

"One of the cornerstones of press freedom in any country is the free flow of information in all forms, including through new media such as blogs and online news sites," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"China's repeated promises that it is committed to improving openness and communication including public access to online information cannot be taken seriously until this kind of censorship ends."

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