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Journalists refused entry to trial of blogger

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 22, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns China's use of orders and charges against journalists after journalists and members of the public were refused entry to the trial of blogger Duan Lei in Shandong province on July 17.

Duan faces criminal charges of "endangering social stability" for an article published on July 3 in which he detailed alleged corruption of a Communist Party Committee Secretary in Cao County.

In what would be considered a case of alleged defamation under civil legislation, Duan could face imprisonment if convicted.

Bloggers and online media reporters in China have faced a major clampdown by authorities this year, following the introduction in January of a policy to curb online content deemed "vulgar" or "pornographic".

On July 16, a blogger and signatory to the democratic reform and human rights-focused Charter 08 petition was reportedly detained by Mawei District Police in Fujian Province in relation to comments he posted online 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 reportedly detained in late June for commenting on the same incident.

Meanwhile, on July 21, the Central Propaganda Department forbade all media from publishing anything referring to corruption allegations against the eldest son of President Hu Jintao. The order followed publication of an article headlined "Hu Jintao's son linked to African corruption probe" in the UK-based The Telegraph on July 17.

The Telegraph reported that three people had been arrested on charges of fraud, corruption and bribery involving a government contract with the state-owned Chinese company Nuctech. The President's son, Hu Haifeng, was the president of Nuctech until last year. He was subsequently appointed as Party secretary of Tsinghua Holdings, which controls Nuctech.

The IFJ is told that no media outlet in China has reported the case since the ban was imposed.

"China's continuing efforts to control and silence reporting on matters of public interest only underline how far China has to go in achieving a free and independent media," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

The IFJ calls on China's Central and provincial governments to end all forms of restrictions on the media, including arbitrary detentions and arrests of journalists and bloggers.
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