Writer harassed over sex-slave story

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2011, 12:00am
 

The reporter who broke the story about a sex-slave scandal in Henan said he was subjected to brutal questioning by unidentified local officials trying to discover the source of the news and was also threatened, with the officials accusing him of 'infringing state secrets'.

On Thursday morning the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News published his report about a quality-control worker in Luoyang who locked up six young women in his basement for almost two years, treated them as sex slaves and killed two of them.

That same day, reporter Ji Xuguang posted on his Weibo microblog that he had been questioned by two men in the hotel where he was staying.

'It's a typical criminal case related to the public's right to know,' Ji wrote on his microblog.

'What kind of 'state secret' is it? It must be the secret of top officials' performance assessment.'

Fearing he might be taken away, he asked his 24,000 fans to pay close attention and lend a hand if needed.

It is not uncommon for mainland investigative reporters who uncover corruption or other scandals to be prevented from moving around by local police, or for them to be harassed or even assaulted by thugs.

Ji left Henan on Thursday night.

In yesterday's edition of his newspaper, he said the two men who questioned him were from the Luoyang authorities and he condemned the local government's attempts to cover up such a serious case in the hope of safeguarding the city's 'face'.

The police officer who tipped Ji off to the case said exposure of the crime would jeopardise the city's campaign for recognition as one of 'China's Civilised Cities' and the authorities also worried that revealing the gory details would spread panic in society.

The files on the sex-slave case files were accessed only by high-ranking police officials, Ji wrote.

The phone line to the Luoyang government's press office rang unanswered yesterday afternoon.

The sensational case and the threats to Ji attracted widespread attention on Weibo, with hundreds of questions sent to the reporter by yesterday afternoon. He told internet users that he had been ignored when he tried to interview those in authority.

'It's a good thing that police busted such a criminal,' he said. 'However, the authorities' attitude is to blame for any negative impact from this case.'

Li Hao , who imprisoned the women, was arrested while fleeing, and the four rescued women are being detained while police investigate whether they were involved in the two murders.

The local public security bureau said that Li was employed by the local Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision, but was not a civil servant, according to reports in the Legal Evening News.

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