Die Zeit Reporter Recounts Assistant’s Detention

Die Zeit Reporter Recounts Assistant’s Detention

Die Zeit reporter Angela Köckritz writes a detailed account of the detention of her Chinese assistant, Zhang Miao, who was taken by police October 2 in Beijing after helping report on the Hong Kong protest movement. Zhang was accused of “inciting a public disturbance,” a charge frequently used against activists, human rights lawyers, and others. Köckritz left China after being threatened with arrest herself after inquiring about Zhang’s situation with police; when she asked police why they were ignoring the Criminal Procedure Law, she was told, “You journalists think Occupy Central is the reason. But it’s about more than that. It’s about the security of the state, about its territorial integrity. That’s why the Criminal Procedure Law doesn’t apply”:

The next morning, I was in the middle of an interview when I received a WeChat message from Miao. It was a photo taken the previous evening. It showed Miao and four men. All of them had pinned on yellow ribbons and crossed their arms over their chests just like the student leader Joshua Wong had done on the morning of October 1 when the Chinese flag was being hoisted in Hong Kong. “The one on the left has been arrested,” Miao had written below the photo. “A poet.”

“Oh, God!” I thought. Then I checked to see if she had posted the photo on her public account. She had. And she had also changed her profile picture. It now showed a yellow ribbon.

I wish I could turn back the clock on what happened in the next 45 minutes. At some point during that span of time, Miao must have gotten out of a car in Beijing even though she saw police on the side of the road. I’m not sure I could have stopped her. I would have at least liked to try.

[…] At last, I’m standing in front of the café we had arranged to meet at. I try Miao’s number as my interview subject hurries toward me. We had hardly sat down for coffee when the news about Miao’s arrest reaches me almost simultaneously via two channels. The editorial office in Hamburg was on the line, saying: “One Mr. Zhang from the Chinese security authorities called. He says Miao has been arrested.” Miao’s brother sent me a message with the same news. No one knew exactly what had happened. [Source]

Read more about Zhang’s detention from CDT and from the Committee to Protect Journalists.


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