Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 4 News List

China releases journalist, indicts two online writers

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China has granted early release to a journalist jailed in June for a year for extortion and charged two Internet writers with inciting subversion, press watchdog Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.

China, which employs an estimated 30,000 people to trawl Web sites for subversive material, is the world's leading jailer of journalists, with at least 32 in custody, and another 50 Internet campaigners also in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Yang Xiaoqing (陽小青), based in Hunan, had been in detention since January after reporting corruption among local officials, but despite his release, his conviction was not overturned.

"It is an unjust verdict, and I refuse to accept it because I am totally innocent as I was just doing my job," Yang said.

Reporters Without Borders called his release a "half-measure that fails to cover up the fact that he was imprisoned for several months without reason."

Yang was among a number of journalists who have been sentenced on what press freedom groups say are trumped up charges after reports that fall afoul of the authorities.

China formally charged two Internet writers last week with "inciting subversion of state authority," Reporters Without Borders said.

Zhang Jianhong (張建紅), the founder and editor of literary news Web site "Agean Sea" that was closed in March, was arrested in Zhejiang Province last month.

The second Internet writer charged was Chen Shuqing (陳樹慶), a member of the banned China Democracy Party.

Meanwhile, the Internet Society of China has recommended to the government that bloggers be required to use their real names when they register blogs, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

The society, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Information Industry, said no decision had been made but that a "real name system" was inevitable.

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