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Journalist put on "most wanted" list for accusing company of improprieties

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the action of the police in Suichang, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, in putting reporter Qiu Ziming of "The Economic Observer" weekly on the list of the country's most wanted criminals because of allegations he made about a Suichang-based battery manufacturer, Kan Specialties Material Corporation.

Voicing strong support for Qiu and hailing his determination to stand by what he wrote and produce evidence to back his claims, Reporters Without Borders calls on the police to remove him from the list at once and drop all legal proceedings. Qiu is currently facing a possible two-year jail sentence.

"This is a journalist who adhered to his principles and did his duty as a reporter, and it is absurd to put him in the same category as wanted criminals," the press freedom organisation said. "The government should heed the massive support that Chinese Internet users have expressed for Qiu since the police put him on the wanted list. There have been more than 2,000 posts about him."

Qiu, who works for "The Economic Observer"'s Shanghai bureau, wrote several stories in June about the battery company's alleged improprieties, including insider trading. After the company responded with a lawsuit, Qiu went into hiding, prompting the police to put him on the national wanted list.

Aged 28, Qiu is calling for justice to be rendered in the case. He says he does not fear the police and has proof of what he wrote. "This is not over, I will get an apology from the Suichang police," he has written in his blog on Sina, one of the leading Chinese portals.

Of the 33,000 Internet users who responded to a poll on the Sina website, 86 per cent said they thought the manhunt launched by the police was "illegal."

Commenting on the case, "The Economic Observer", a widely respected business weekly, has condemned "the use of the police to repress a media professional."

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