cLooking at this year’s Winter Olympics, scheduled for Beijing, the January list seeks to illustrate the “terrible” state of press freedom in China.
Jimmy Lai Chi Ying is serving a 20-month prison sentence, pending further trial, for fraud and an attack on national security, for which he faces life in prison.
Throughout 2021, China continued to have a “serious record of imprisoning and detaining journalists without consequences, as well as spying and physically assaulting journalists, in an attempt to censor them,” the One Free Press Alliance accused in its statement.
According to the 2021 census of arrests of these professionals by the Committee to Protect Journalists, “China continued, for the third year in a row, to be the country with the largest number of journalists.”
In 2021, what was new was that this census, conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists since 1992, included journalists from Hong Kong for the first time.
The One Free Press Alliance’s January list begins, the 35th of its existence, with Jimmy Lay, founder of Next Digital Limited, the publisher of Apple Daily and Next Magazine, which was forced to close in 2021 due to pressure and threats to power.
The second name is that of Zhang Zhan, a freelance journalist who was sentenced to four years in prison for posting videos critical of the government’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He started a hunger strike and is in critical condition.
It follows Uyghur writer, blogger and economist Ilham Tohti who has been in prison since 2014, and was sentenced to life imprisonment for separatism. He founded the Uyghurbees news website, focusing on social issues and Uyghur rights.
The fourth, Huang Qi, who ran the human rights-focused news website 64 Tianwang, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for disclosing state secrets. Despite his critical condition, he was denied medical treatment.
The next name is Internet broadcaster and commentator Wan Yew Seng, who covers political events in mainland China and Hong Kong for independent broadcaster D100, and was arrested by Hong Kong police in February. He is being tried on charges of sedition and money laundering.
Freelance journalist Sophia Huang Xueqin on September 19, along with labor organizer Wang Jianping, disappeared the day before to leave the United Kingdom to study. On 27 September, it was reported that the two were in custody on charges of “inciting subversion”.
The One Free Press roster continues with Haze Fan, a news reporter and economic producer for Bloomberg News, being held on charges of threatening national security, although no charges have been brought against him.
In eighth place is Zhou Weilin, a reporter for human rights news website Weiquanwang, who has published articles on employment issues and the rights of people with disabilities. He is serving a three and a half year prison sentence.
Uighur journalist Gulmir Amin, whose ninth name is mentioned, is serving a 19-year and eight-month prison sentence for secession, disclosing state secrets and organizing illegal demonstrations. Amin was one of several Internet forum administrators arrested after riots in the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Xinjiang in 2009.
The list ends with Gulchehra Hoja who was banned from returning to China after joining Radio Free Asia in the United States. In May 2019 he testified before the US House of Representatives at a hearing that focused on the dangers of publishing human rights news.
Among the dozens of members of the One Free Press alliance are Bloomberg, Efe, Reuters, AP, Al Jazeera TV, European media Corriere Della Sera, De Standaard, Deutsche Welle, Süddeutsche Zeitung, EURACTIV, The Financial Times and Forbes. and Fortune, Time magazine or The Washington Post.
One Free Press is partnering with the Committee to Protect Journalists and International Women in the Media Foundation.
Also read: Hong Kong activists convicted of participating in surveillance
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