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Paper issues plea for the release of journalist

2013-10-25 08:44 China Daily Web Editor: Gu Liping

A newspaper in Guangzhou published a front-page plea for the second day in a row calling for the release of one of its journalists by police in Hunan province.

The New Express' headline read, "Once again please set him free" on Thursday as it called on police in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, to free Chen Yongzhou and solve the problem within the legal framework.

Chen, who has been in criminal detention since Saturday, faces charges of "damaging business reputation" five months after the newspaper published his reports that Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Development, a giant engineering company in Changsha, allegedly falsified its sales and revenue in Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces.

Changsha police said on Thursday that Chen's case is going through legal procedures, and the police will "handle the case according to law".

On Wednesday, The New Express carried a full-page editorial on the front-page under the headline "Please set him free".

"The reports on Zoomlion are normal news reports," the newspaper said in a subsequent statement. "It's the media's job and responsibility to report on problems and do the supervision. As a journalist with the paper's economic news department, Chen Yongzhou is merely doing his job."

Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified source with Changsha police on Wednesday as saying that the authority decided to put Chen under criminal detention after it found the newspaper and Chen "fabricated facts and printed 18 negative reports about Zoomlion without a proper verification process".

Changsha police declined to comment when contacted by China Daily on Thursday.

The All-China Journalists Association on Thursday urged local authorities to explain the controversial detention of a journalist who had reported on "financial problems" at a leading engineering company.

"We hope that related authorities in Hunan will present a convincing and justice-based explanation" on the matter," the association said.

The association said it will continue to track the detention of the journalist.

Chen's accusations that Zoomlion caused losses of State assets, falsified sales and financial figures, and had massive advertising costs were all fabricated, police said.

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