Experts call for details on rumor cases

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

15:48, August 26, 2013

As police roll out their nationwide campaign against online rumors, experts have urged relevant departments to offer more details of cases being investigated, insisting that the process of tackling rumors should also be transparent.

Beijing police confirmed with Sina Weibo, China's largest micro- blog service, on Sunday that journalist Liu Hu has been detained on allegations of criminal fabrication and dissemination of rumors online. Liu works for Xinkuaibao, a local media company in Guangdong province.

However, police did not give any details on the case, such as which rumor Liu is supposed to have fabricated. Instead, they merely stated that the journalist's detention was in accordance with the law and that investigations are ongoing.

Prior to the detention, Guangdong media reported that on July 29, Liu used his real-name Weibo account to make allegations against Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and former vice-mayor of Chongqing municipality. The journalists alleged that the official had come under suspicion of dereliction of duty for his reform of State-owned enterprises in Chong-qing.

So far, however, police have not confirmed that this is the reason for Liu's detention.

According to Liu's wife, surnamed Qin, who was quoted by local media, the journalist was handcuffed and removed from his home in Chongqing on Friday noon, and police confiscated his laptop, computer and several bank cards.

Cheng Manli, a media professor at Peking University, said, "The police have attached more importance to fighting online rumors recently, but they should make the information provided more specific."

The Ministry of Public Security launched a nationwide campaign against online rumors last week. On Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement that it had closed a company suspected of fabricating and spreading fake information on websites, and placed two men, Qin Zhihui and Yang Xiuyu, in criminal detention.

On Sunday, prosecutors in Jiangsu province also approved the arrest of Zhou Lubao on charges of extortion linked to spreading online rumors, according to the ministry's website.

Zhou, from Gansu province, is suspected of posting more than 15,000 items of fake information last year. The ministry said he had blackmailed more than 20 departments and individuals in this way.

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