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IFJ commends journalist threatened for report on floods

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 15, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns a threat made against journalist Liu Jianfeng on July 9, after he refused to take a bribe from officials in Jiangxi province in eastern China.

Liu, a journalist with China Economic Times, received a life-threatening note after he reported on his blog that people had drowned during floods in Jiangxi on July 8.

His original report on the paper's website had been edited by senior management, who reclassified three deaths caused by the floods as "disappearances".

Officials acknowledge that 118 people have died so far as a result of the floods, with as many as 30,000 people evacuated from the province in recent days, the China Daily reports.

According to a Radio Free Asia report, Liu found a note at his home which said, "Watch out when you go out!"

Liu believes the note was sent by agents of the Jiangxi Government, who had also allegedly offered him a bribe of 3000 yuan (about USD 443) while he was dining with a group of local officials.

"Unfortunately, the fear of recriminations for reporters in China who refuse to self-censor shows no sign of improving," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. "Liu is to be commended for refusing to accept bribes, and for his steadfast belief in truthful reporting."

The Government of Jiangxi has since claimed that all those mentioned in Liu's report as affected by the floods were rescued. Liu's report has been removed from the China Economic Times website.

The paper's previous editor-in-chief, Bao Yueyang, was sacked on May 12 for publishing a report that exposed the deaths of several children in the north-western province of Shanxi, allegedly due to faulty government-issued vaccines.

The IFJ urges China's Central Government and Security Bureau to promptly investigate the threats and bribery allegations, and calls on the All-China Journalists' Association to discourage self-censorship.

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