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Journalist interrogated by police over controversial reporting on website

(IFJ/IFEX) - 24 August 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges China's authorities, including the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), to investigate a case of police harassment of journalists.

Two Beijing-based journalists at, a website co-owned by a number of Beijing media outlets and internet companies, reported on July 21 that Shandong Hilead Biotechnology, of Laiyang City, Shandong province, was possibly involved in a dispute over product ownership.

Laiyang's propaganda department requested on July 23 and 31 that the website withdraw the articles.'s publishers refused.

Laiyang police then unexpectedly arrived in Beijing and interrogated one of the journalists for several hours.

During the interrogation, the officers forced the journalist to disclose the source of the report before releasing him. The officers then contacted the other journalist by telephone and demanded he accompany them to Beijing for further inquiries. The journalist, who was on vacation at the time, refused the demand after consulting a lawyer.

"A journalist's right to protect sources is a cornerstone of press freedom, which must be respected by all levels of government administration, including the police," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"The IFJ urges China's General Administration of Press and Publication, the Central Propaganda Department and the Government and Security Bureau of Yantai to investigate the case promptly and return any materials or information which may have been collected by police."

The IFJ is surprised that this new case of interrogation comes so soon after GAPP made a statement on July 30 noting its support for the rights of media workers.

The statement followed the case of Economic Observer journalist Qiu Ziming, who suddenly became a "wanted person" after he published three articles which alleged a company breached stock exchange rules. China's security bureau apologised and removed Qiu's name from the wanted list after seven days.

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    "We welcome the apology that the Suichang police have given to Qiu Ziming and we call for a transparent investigation into why he was placed on a national list of wanted criminals," RSF said.

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