Hu Yong: Defamation Can No Longer Be Used to Restrict Netizen Speech

Translated by Joshua Rosenzweig:

The public security bureau in Mawei District, Fuzhou, recently detained Guo Baofeng and several other netizens. The lawyer for these detained netizens says that they were detained for posting or re-posting items on the Internet about the “Yan Xiaoling case” in which [Yan was] “brutally gang-raped to death by eight people.” Police have given the reason as “suspected defamation”; when the lawyer requested to meet with the detained individuals, police refused on the grounds that the case “involved state secrets. (See the July 17 Xin Kuai Bao report.)

These detentions sound quite familiar to us. Like the cases of Wang Shuai, Wu Baoquan, and others, they form a part of a long, long list of names of those bloggers and netizens who have been detained or convicted by organs of public authority for exposing the deeds of local governments. There are two basic elements of most of these types of cases. One is the fervor with which ordinary people use the Internet and employ text or video to expose and broadcast local injustice on popular Internet forums or blogs. The second is the habitual way that certain local governments, faced with suspicion or criticism, use the crime of defamation as a weapon of public power to attack private rights and try to restrict people’s expression on the Internet.


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