A Chinese court has asked for an apology from a newspaper which said it jailed 10 “interceptors” who illegally held petitioners attempting to lodge complaints with the government, state media reported yesterday.
The state-run Beijing Youth Daily reported yesterday that 10 were imprisoned for illegally detaining people from the central province of Henan who had travelled to Beijing to complain about local government abuses.
The widely circulated report struck a chord among many Chinese dissatisfied with the age-old “petitioning” system, which allows citizens to request the central government to investigate disputes such as land grabs and unpaid wages.
Officials, eager to protect their reputations, often employ “interceptors” to catch petitioners and detain them in secret facilities known as “black jails” to prevent them from lodging complaints.
The newspaper said a Beijing court handed down sentences ranging from several months to a year-and-a-half in prison for “illegal imprisonment,” the first time such workers have been sentenced in the capital.
A court spokeswoman branded the report, which was carried by most major Chinese news Web sites and widely spread on Chinese social networking Web sites, as “fake news,” another state-run newspaper, the China Daily, reported.
Petitioners said their interceptors wore badges showing their affiliation with the Henan government and detained them in a facility run by Henan officials in Beijing, where they were also beaten, according to the Beijing Youth Daily report.