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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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China: Jailed Activist’s Wife Detained for Leaving Country to Collect Rights Award

Posted by Author on August 24, 2007

By Ben Blanchard, Reuters, Aug 24, 2007-

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday prevented the wife of a blind, jailed activist from going to the Philippines to collect a human rights award on his behalf by revoking her passport.

Police detained her at the airport, a friend told Reuters.

The Manila-based Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation named Chen Guangcheng as one of seven winners this year, citing his “irrepressible passion for justice in leading ordinary Chinese citizens to assert their legitimate rights under the law.”

Chen was jailed for four years and three months last year for disrupting traffic and damaging property, charges his wife, Yuan Weijing, and critics say were concocted by officials angry at his exposure of forced late-term abortions in his hometown in Shandong province.

“They said that her passport was not valid,” said Yuan’s friend and fellow activist Zeng Jinyan. “But that’s not the case. She was able to check in with no problem.”

Yuan’s telephone was turned off.

Zeng’s husband and fellow activist Hu Jia told Reuters he later received a very brief phone call from Yuan saying that she had been “kidnapped”, was hiding in a women’s toilet and was unable to say where she was.

“I suddenly heard the sound of somebody knocking on the door, and then the phone went dead,” Hu said. “This is the work of the Public Security Ministry — China’s Gestapo.”

The ministry declined to comment.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said in a statement that it regretted that Chen was unable to come to Manila to receive his prize and that Yuan was also unable to accept on his behalf.

But it added that the foundation was a non-political organization, saying “we respect every country’s authority and its decisions with regard to the travel of its citizens”.

HARASSMENT

Police earlier accosted and briefly detained a small group of foreign reporters who had gone to Hu and Zeng’s house in Beijing, where Yuan was staying.

Officers tried to seize film and stopped Hu from driving Yuan to the airport.

Yuan told Reuters before setting off that the foreign affairs office in Linyi, near her home, had called late on Thursday night to tell her the passport had been revoked.

“But my passport very obviously is valid until March 2008. Moreover, I already have my visa,” she said. “There is no reason to revoke it.”

Yuan said the Shandong government did not want her leaving the country to tell foreigners about abuses her husband was trying to combat.

“They have done illegal things,” she said. “They don’t want it to be spoken about.

“I actually really admire the Shandong government for making so much effort that they can mobilize the Beijing public security bureau,” Yuan added sarcastically.

Chinese activists have said Chen’s heavy sentence shows officials are clamping down on “rights defenders”, a network of lawyers and activists seeking to expand freedoms through litigation and Internet-driven campaigns.

A British diplomat who had gone to see if Yuan would be allowed to leave said she was concerned about the harassment.

“This is a case we’ve raised at the highest levels with the Chinese,” Lucy Hughes from the British embassy in Beijing told Reuters. “We are concerned both for the safety of human rights defenders and for the ability of journalists to report freely.”

Foreign journalists were supposed to have been given greater freedom to report since the start of the year, ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But in practice the police still detain reporters when they see fit.

– Original report from Reuters : China stops activist’s wife leaving country

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