Media Summary: China's Detention of New York Times Researcher Zhao Yan (updated 21-Oct-04)
On October 21 the Chinese language Web site Epoch Times reported that Zhao Yan's lawyer had told a Hong Kong newspaper that Chinese authorities had officially arrested Zhao Yan for disclosing state secrets. According to a New York Times report, Zhao's lawyer said his requests to see Zhao have been rejected, Zhao's family is legally barred from seeing him until the case is resolved, and the notice of Zhao's arrest did not explain what he was accused of doing.
On September 30 Human Rights in China issued a press release (see below) citing a friend of Zhao Yan as saying that Zhao was convinced that state security authorities suspected him of providing information to the New York Times that Jiang Zemin had offered to resign his last major post as chairman of the China's Central Military Commission. HRIC reports that Zhao told this friend and others that the authorities had contacted him twice within three or four days, saying they wanted to meet with him to discuss the article, and that Zhao decided to“disappear” for a while, and left work for several days with his cell phone switched off. According to HRIC's source, after Zhao turned his phone back on, he was tracked down by state security within an hour and detained.
On September 29 Human Rights in China issued a press release (see below) citing unnamed sources as saying Zhao may have been detained to prevent his carrying out a hunger strike for the release of peasant activist Zhang Youren.
On September 28 the Associated Press reported that on Tuesday China had said "outside forces should not interfere" in Zhao's case.
On September 27 a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department expressed concern in a press briefing about Zhao's case and its implications for journalists working in China. He said the State Department has raised it both with the foreign ministry in China, and in Washington to the Chinese Embassy, and that they are seeking clarification of his status and underscoring the view that the role of a free press is critical in providing information to build a strong civil society.
Also on September 27 Voice of America reported that the New York Times had also complained to Chinese authorities, and that a spokeswoman for the newspaper said that Mr. Zhao had not provided it with any state secrets.
On September 23 the Associated Press reported that the New York Times' foreign editor had said that Zhao Yan went to work for the Times in May, but did no reporting or writing on his own for the newspaper. According to the AP report, a document given to Zhao’s family stated he was suspected of "illegally providing state secrets to foreigners.” AP cited a friend of Zhao's as saying that Zhao had said agents from the Ministry of State Security wanted to question him about an article the New York Times published on September 7 saying Jiang Zemin had offered to resign his last major post as chairman of the China's Central Military Commission.
On September 21 China Labor Watch reported that Zhao Yan, whom the group described as a Chinese advocate of farmers' rights, had been detained on September 16 by police in Shanghai last week on unknown charges.
Human Rights in China Press Release, September 30, 2004
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received information providing further details on the background of the arrest of journalist Zhao Yan, which exemplifies the pernicious effect of Chinese State Secrets Law as applied to journalists and civil society actors.
At the time of his arrest, Zhao Yan was working as a researcher for the Beijing bureau of the New York Times. Zhao is widely reported to have been detained on suspicion of leaking confidential information relating to Jiang Zemin’s resignation as Chairman of the Central Military Commission. More recently, HRIC received reports that the Chinese authorities also wished to prevent Zhao Yan from staging a hunger strike on behalf of peasant activist Zhang Youren, who is currently suffering serious illness while under residential surveillance.
The most recent information received by HRIC from a source in China provides further details of the intense pressure Zhao Yan experienced following publication of a report in The New York Times that Jiang Zemin had informed Party officials of his intention to resign as chairman of the Central Military Commission. The report was published on September 7, nearly two weeks before the official announcement of Jiang’s resignation on September 19. HRIC’s source quotes two sources he considers reliable as saying that President Hu Jintao personally ordered an investigation into the Times story.
A friend of Zhao Yan told HRIC that Zhao became increasingly convinced that state security authorities suspected him of having leaked the information to the Times. Zhao told this friend and others that the authorities had contacted him twice within three or four days, saying they wanted to meet with him to discuss the article. A source close to the New York Times said Zhao was not in fact the source of the information in the story, or even an active participant in the reporting process. However, Zhao was aware of the substance of the piece before it went to press and may have spoken with others about it. He expressed concern to a friend that state security authorities might associate him with the article in some way.
Zhao’s friend said that Zhao decided to take a vacation from his research position in order to “disappear” for a while, and left work for several days with his cell phone switched off. A friend that Zhao was traveling with in Shanghai said that after Zhao turned his phone back on, he was tracked down by state security within an hour and detained.
A source who has spoken with Zhao’s family says Zhao’s detention notification states that Zhao is in criminal detention under suspicion of leaking state secrets. This source says that since Zhao’s detention, a number of his friends have been interviewed by state security regarding Zhao’s connection to the New York Times and his relationship with Chinese government and military officials.
2004 年9 月30 日
赵岩被捕时为纽约时报北京办事处研究员。在2004 年9 月7 日，纽约时报
士表示了他要辞去军委主席的愿望。江泽民的辞职是在9 月19 日正式公布的。纽
Human Rights in China Press Release, September 29, 2004
Sources in China have told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that journalist Zhao Yan may have been detained to prevent his carrying out a hunger strike for the release of peasant activist Zhang Youren.
Zhao Yan was arrested in Shanghai on September 16. At the time, he was working as a researcher for the Beijing bureau of the New York Times, and there have been reports that the Chinese authorities suspect Zhao of leaking confidential information prior to the official announcement on September 19 that Jiang Zemin was resigning as Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
However, sources familiar with Zhao Yan said that shortly before his arrest he had approached social activist Yu Meisun to join him in launching a hunger strike to pressure the authorities into releasing Zhang Youren, who was detained on July 6 after leading a group of peasants in Tangshan, Hebei Province in protesting the terms of a massive relocation scheme. Zhang Youren is now being confined to his home under residential surveillance. In his previous capacity as a journalist for China Reform magazine, Zhao Yan had written many articles on peasant rights, and earlier this year he had joined with Yu Meisun and others to distribute a petition signed by more than 17,000 Tangshan villagers calling for the removal of a local official suspected of having misappropriated funds earmarked as compensation for the loss of their farmland.
Zhao Yan and others assisting the peasant protesters have come under increasing pressure since Zhang Youren’s detention. In the meantime, Zhang Youren is reported to be almost blind with glaucoma after a worsening of his diabetic condition, and because of his inability to have contact with others under the terms of his residential surveillance he has been unable to obtain medical treatment. Upon learning of Zhang Youren’s situation, Zhao Yan approached Yu Meisun a number of times urging him to joint in a hunger strike calling for the release of Zhang Youren and another detained peasant activist, Wu Zhongkai. Zhao Yan initially planned to begin the hunger strike in Beijing after the annual plenary session of China’s Central Committee this month, and had told friends on September 10 that he would begin the hunger strike on his own even if Yu Meisun declined to participate. Sources say word of Zhao Yan’s plans quickly spread, and may have prompted Public Security police to detain Zhao Yan while the Central Committee session was still in progress.
According to a friend of Zhao Yan, Zhao had picked up signs that he was under surveillance in Shanghai over the previous two days before his arrest. The friend said that Zhao Yan was detained around 9:00 in the evening of September 16 while he was having dinner with this friend at the Yaohan Shopping Center in Pudong. Two men approached Zhao Yan, identified themselves as Shanghai State Security Bureau officers, and presented him with some kind of written notice that the friend was unable to read. Soon afterward around a dozen men in plain clothes led Zhao Yan away, while the friend was taken to a sedan and driven to a safe house in Pudong. There the friend was subjected to a lengthy interrogation, during which police said that Zhao Yan had lied and was not really working for the New York Times. The friend was forced to surrender property belonging to Zhao Yan. The next day, police led the friend to a detention center near Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport. There the friend saw Zhao Yan looking exhausted and accompanied by a senior official from the Beijing State Security Bureau. Zhao Yan is now believed to be held in the Beijing State Security Bureau Detention Center in the Dahongmen area.
2004 年9 月29 日
坛公开绝食。心急的赵岩在9 月10 日已向朋友们宣布，即使俞梅荪不参加单只自
年7 月8 日电话通知北京关注农民问题的社会学家张耀杰，当地警方逼迫他诬陷赵
赵岩是9 月16 日晚上9 时许，与一个朋友在上海浦东八百伴商厦吃饭，竟
1 万7 千余唐山农民，每人争取到1745 元的补偿费用，虽然还远远不够规定的补
自掏腰包出资3 万元凑集27 万元，拿到北京走后门迫使《中国改革》杂志将赵岩