A Chinese journalist who posted allegations of corrupt dealings during the privatization of state-owned assets has been formally arrested on a defamation charge, his lawyer said.
The Beijing People’s Procuratorate approved Liu Hu’s arrest on Sept. 30, lawyer Zhou Ze said by phone yesterday. Liu, who worked for the Guangzhou-based New Express, had been in detention since Aug. 24, according to Zhou.
Liu’s arrest adds to evidence that the government is stepping up a crackdown against people who go online with revelations of official malfeasance. At the same time that the Communist Party has vowed to get tough on corruption, authorities have targeted outspoken bloggers and announced that people who post comments deemed defamatory could face as much as three years behind bars.
“I think they chose Sept. 30 to approve the arrest because everyone was on holiday, no one was paying attention,” Zhou said, referring to China’s National Day holiday, a seven-day break that began the next day.
Liu alleged on his microblog in July that Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, waived further investigation into the privatization of two state-owned companies when he was party secretary of a district in Chongqing, the South China Morning Post reported July 30.