Internet user held by police for spreading polluted sea rumour

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2011, 12:00am

A man has been detained by police and fined 500 yuan (HK$593) for spreading rumours that radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant had polluted the sea around Shandong, China News Service reports.

The internet user in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, will be detained for 10 days after a rumour posted by him on an internet forum was widely circulated and created a panic, causing people to rush out to buy table salt last week.

The 31-year-old clerk from a computer company said on the internet that 'valuable information suggested the explosion in Japan's nuclear plant has continued to influence and pollute the sea around Shandong province'.

He added: 'Please inform your family and friends to store salt and dried seaweed, and don't eat sea products for the next year.'

The man said he saw the information when chatting online with others, and simply re-sent the information to his family, friends and other internet users without determining whether or not it was true.

He admitted to the police that he had distributed the information and made a public apology online.

The case follows another on Friday in Sichuan in which a man was detained for five days in Guangyuan for spreading rumours that salt prices would soar and the manufacture of salt would be suspended, the West China City News reported.

As a forum moderator, he posted an entry entitled 'Japan's radiation made salt hard to buy' to attract hits.

Another rumour that fuelled a salt-buying frenzy across the mainland was also denied by officials.

The craze began over the erroneous belief that salt and the iodine in it is a defence against radiation.

When the salt was sold out, some consumers started grabbing bottles of soy sauce by the armful, as many types of the condiment contain sodium.