Hack into Freedom City

Freedom City Plans Thanks to a truly remarkable translation job by John Kennedy at Global Voices, we now have easy access to an equally remarkable document currently circulating through the Chinese blogger networks. Called ‘Hack into Freedom City,’ the document describes, in tremendous detail, a plan to break through the surveillance system set up around the apartment in Beijing’s BOBO Freedom City (BOBO 自由城) where , blogger wife of imprisoned activist Hu Jia, currently resides under house arrest. The plan is a response to the failed attempt of a blogger to smuggle milk powder (Chinese) into the complex for Zeng and Hu’s child earlier this year. The plan comes complete with maps, surveillance photos and a wonderfully intricate account, of which the following is but a taste:

Luckily, just prior to this I had finished reading The Gulag Archipelago, so I was mentally prepared for the conditions inside an institution. However, this was still not enough, so I did a crash course in learning some criminal procedure law and investigation and interrogation methodology. Aside from that, my head was full of the first-person shooters in Delta Force and Counter-Strike—so I was thinking of what was needed for a military operation.

As you are about to expend a significant effort in the invasion, the greater the return the better. So in addition to delivering the milk powder, relaying information is just as important. Preparations needed to be made:

Several of that day’s newspaper, printouts regarding Zeng Jinyan’s blog tucked inside, and copies of those printouts saved on a memory card; prepare two digital camera memory cards, one with sensitive content to be kept hidden in your sock at all times; a mobile phone—buy a new number; do not carelessly leave fingerprints behind—wear gloves; food, water, sheets of paper, a felt marker, binoculars, mobile phone battery, batter recharger, money, toilet paper, batteries; no ID whatsoever must be carried; a topographical map and the SSP license plate numbers marked down in a notebook; a fake name—choose characters homophonic to your name (this may not be of use); check keychain for any identifying markers; last, milk powder. Carry all this in a backpack, although be sure to note the necessity of keeping the bag as separate from your person to the greatest extent possible (SSP will wonder: ‘what’s a resident doing toting around a backpack? What’s stored in there?’).

To discover how the story ends, you’ll have to head over to Global Voices. A long read, but well worth it.

To get a better idea of the conditions of Zeng’s confinement, see the video ‘Prisoner in Freedom City‘ (cited as a reference in the planning of the above operation.)


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