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IFJ denounces punishment of journalist for publicising ban

(IFJ/IFEX) - 5 July 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disappointed to learn that a journalist has been punished by his employer for disclosing a restrictive order issued by China's authorities.

Zhang Junyan, a journalist at Southern Metropolis Daily, was fined 1500 yuan (about USD 220) by his employer after he published the order on his blog. Zhang was also demoted from his position as an intermediate level journalist to a junior level journalist.

"We don't know what it was about, but he was punished because no order from the authorities is allowed to be released," another journalist from Southern Metropolis said.

"It is a secret in China - anyone who releases [the order] might face punishment."

The relevant message in Zhang's blog has already deleted.

"The punishment of a journalist for posting a restrictive order is disappointing, particularly as the Premier of China, Wen Jiabao, has publicly reconfirmed the right of citizens to be informed about what is happening," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"Punishing a journalist who has true respect for the public and upholding the Premier's ideal is abhorrent and is condemned by the IFJ. The Southern Metropolis Daily should reverse its decision and promptly return the 1500 yuan to Zhang Junyan."

The incident is similar to the case of former journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years' jail in 2005 after he made public via the Yahoo! email service a restrictive government order instructing media not to report on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989.

Another restrictive order was issued on June 30 to prevent publicity about actions by a group of media workers and scholars who denounced a statement by the Chongqing Morning Post after rumours circulated that one of the paper's journalists had been sentenced to a labour re-education camp.

The group, which alleged the newspaper disrespected journalists by using threatening words in its statement in an attempt to stop other media reporting on the case, is calling on people express their anger by boycotting the newspaper.

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