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Journalist in northern Sha'anxi province suspended for raising corruption questions

UPDATE: Shallow victory for journalists, protesters (CPJ, 5 July 2012)

(IFJ/IFEX) - 3 July 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the management of the Xi'an Evening Newspaper's decision to suspend one of its journalists after he reported on corruption allegations made against the Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for the township of Dali, in China's northern Sha'anxi province.

On June 30, Shi Junrong, journalist for the Xi'an Evening Newspaper, was suspended from duty after he had raised the allegations of corruption against the Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for the township of Dali on June 26.

In the report, Shi queried how Dali's Secretary can afford to smoke high-end cigarettes, at a cost of 1,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately USD 158) per carton, given their official monthly salary is understood to be quite low. When contacted by Shi on the telephone, the Secretary claimed the cigarettes belonged to his 'comrade'. Four days later, the newspaper suspended Shi from duty, with the explanation that he did not interview all of the people involved in the story.

The suspension sparked outrage among Shi's colleagues in the media, with many suspecting the decision was made as a result of political pressure.

"The media has an important role as a 'watchdog' on government, as Premier Wen has said publicly on various occasions", IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"The media have a duty to investigate issues of great public concern that supercedes any obligation to political parties or officials".

IFJ calls for the newspaper to immediately revoke the decision to suspend Shi, and urges the All Chinese Journalists Association to fulfil their duties to investigate the case and to protect the rights and interests of China's media personnel.

The Xi'an Evening Newspaper was established by the Communist Party of Xian in 1953.

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