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Call for release of publisher detained in China since October

Ola Wallin, the International Publishers Association (IPA) Freedom to Publish Committee Chair, has called on China to immediately release Yao Wentian, a 73 year-old publisher who has been detained without trial for nearly three months. The South China Morning Post has reported that Mr Yao, the chief editor of Morning Bell Press, was arrested by plain-clothed security forces on October 27th 2013 after being "lured" to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Police have not revealed the nature of the charges against him. Yao's wife has said that the elderly publisher is suffering from heart problems and that he has fainted repeatedly during his detention.

The publisher had been working with US-based author and dissident Yu Jie on Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping, a book about the country's President which was scheduled for release in April. Yu Jie previously wrote China's Best Actor: Wen Jiabao, an unfavourable appraisal of the former President which has been banned in China since its 2010 release. Yu recently posted on Facebook that he had completed the first draft of the Xi book and that he and Yao had also been working on a reprint of Fire and Ice, a 1998 collection of political essays. "We had just finished with the editing when he suddenly disappeared. I think his work on my Xi Jinping book is the main reason why he's been detained."

Ola Wallin said "We are deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of Yao Wentian, and we call for the immediate suspension of his unjust detention. If the Chinese government is serious about its new reforms, then it's time to show this in practice."

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