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Detained PEN officer Zhao Shiying released; new cyber attack targets Independent Chinese PEN Center

(PEN American Center/IFEX) - New York City, January 26, 2010 - PEN American Center has learned that Zhao Shiying, Secretary-General of the Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC), has been allowed to return home after nearly two weeks in police custody. One of the original signers of Charter 08 and a vocal critic of the trial of fellow ICPC member Liu Xiaobo, Zhao was taken from his home and his personal computers were seized on Monday, January 11, 2010. PEN denounced the detention, the latest in a series of arrests of ICPC members, and urged Chinese authorities to release him immediately.

"We have received word that our colleague Zhao Shiying is safely back at home," PEN American Center Freedom to Write Program Director Larry Siems said today in New York. "We are relieved that he is no longer in police custody, and we trust that he will be allowed to resume his life and his work free from restrictions or surveillance."

Meanwhile, PEN American Center expressed outrage over reports that the web site of the Independent Chinese PEN Center was the target of a cyber attack over the weekend. The attack was one of several "distributed denial of service" attacks that overwhelmed the servers of five organizations reporting on human rights abuses in China, preventing users from visiting the sites between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The attack comes less than two weeks after Google announced it was the target of a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack" in December that originated in China and that targeted the Gmail accounts of a number of Chinese human rights activists.

PEN has been monitoring the situation for the Independent Chinese PEN Center and its members closely since the center was singled out four times in the verdict against Liu Xiaobo for posting Charter 08 and other writings by Liu on its web site. Liu Xiaobo is one of five ICPC members currently in prison.

"Last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the Chinese government to carry out a thorough and transparent investigation into the December attacks, and on Friday a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson insisted that Chinese laws prohibit hacking and violating the privacy of its citizens," Siems said. "The following day, the Independent Chinese PEN Center's web site came under attack. We call on the government of China to honor its laws by investigating and prosecuting those responsible for this criminal act."
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