Green website forced to delete stories on jailed activist

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2007, 12:00am

A Jiangsu environmental protection website has been told to ditch reports about jailed Tai Lake pollution campaigner Wu Lihong following his sentencing on Friday, a friend said yesterday.

Hangzhou eco-activist Chen Faqing said his personal website was shut down by internet provider Hangzhou Top Star Internet Technology Company on Friday, the day Wu received a three-year sentence for fraud and extortion.

Mr Chen said his website went back online on Monday after he agreed to co-operate with authorities and delete a series of reports from various media.

'[ The police] listed six news reports about Wu in the past year from The Beijing News, the Oriental Morning Post, the South China Morning Post, Deutsche Welle and Agence France-Presse,' he said.

'The reports objectively told the truth about Wu's contributions to environmental protection. But local authorities said the stories were lashing out at the government and should be removed.'

A Top Star spokesman confirmed yesterday that they had received an order from the internet surveillance branch under the Hangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau on Friday to delete the six reports.

'We failed to contact Mr Chen immediately on Friday to get his permission, so we decided to temporarily shut down the website,' the spokesman said. 'If we didn't do so, [the police] would take away our server and fine us more than 10,000 yuan. We would definitely get in big trouble.'

He said the order was given by the provincial government in the interest of 'national security'. Mr Chen, a grass-roots environmentalist like Wu, said the censorship was aimed at tarnishing Wu's name.

'Before he was jailed, Wu was praised by local and overseas media for his contributions to environmental protection,' Mr Chen said. 'But now, you can't find any positive comments. The internet is suddenly flooded with countless efforts to discredit him.'

Wu's wife, Xu Jiehua , said she had not filed an appeal with the Yixing People's Court for her husband because the court had not given her a statement of the verdict.

'I can only appeal when I receive the verdict document,' Mrs Xu said.

She said the court insisted it had returned Wu's belongings, including a personal computer, camera and recorders seized in a police raid on their home last week, but so far she had not received anything.