Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Journalism group urges China to release Web writer

By Roger Liu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) asking him to release a disabled Chinese online writer arrested last month.

According to human-rights activists in China, Lou Yongzhong (羅永忠) was taken from his apartment in the northeastern city of Changchun on June 13 by the Jilin Provincial National Security Department.

Department officials told Lou his arrest was for "endangering the national security" of China, before taking him to Changchun's No. 3 Detention Center where has been held since, activists said.

Lou's computer, printer and copies of his writings were also confiscated

Officially, the Jilin security department has denied it is holding Luo.

In the letter to Hu, executive director of the CPJ Ann Cooper reminded the president of his government's pledge to guarantee freedom of expression as enshrined in China's constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory

Cooper urged Hu to give this "urgent matter" his full attention and called for the "immediate and unconditional release" of Lou.

Lou, a handicapped Chinese citizen living in Changchun and the owner of a small grocery store, has published more than 150 articles online.

Many are political commentaries, with topics ranging from the plight of disabled people in China and the need for constitutional reform to ensure greater human-rights protection.

Human-rights groups believe it was a selection of articles criticizing former Chinese president Jiang Zemin's (江澤民) "Three Representatives" theory that brought Lou to the attention of the authorities.

Over the past few years, the Chinese government has come down heavily on Internet content it regards as subversive.

Cooper said that Lou is the latest casualty in an ongoing campaign against online speech.

In her letter to Hu she wrote that the CPJ will closely monitor the writer's situation.

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