Reporters Without Borders Expresses Outrage at Arrest of Chinese Journalist Shi Tao

May 9, 2005

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a press release today characterizing the arrest of Shi Tao on charges of disclosing state secrets as "absolutely scandalous." The Independent Chinese PEN Center reported that officials from the state security bureau of Changsha, Hunan province took Shi into custody at his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province on November 24, 2004. Shi worked for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News).

According to RSF, in April 2004, Shi sent the online newspaper Min Zhu Tong Xun the abstract note of a document sent to his newspaper by Chinese authorities "warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks linked to the return of certain dissidents on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre." The Ministry of State Security told the Procuratorate the document was "top secret."

China's state secrets laws, and national security laws in general, are extremely broad and vague, and Chinese authorities often use them to prosecute writers and journalists for legitimately exercising their freedom of expression.

The CECC previously reported on the Chinese government crackdown in late 2004 that resulted in the detention of several writers, journalists, and intellectuals, including Shi Tao.