Bo Xilai

Fang mulls libel claim on Japan newspaper

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am

A top mainland cybersecurity expert is considering suing a Japanese newspaper for libel after it reported that he had been detained due to his links with Chongqing's former party boss Bo Xilai.

Citing a government insider, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday that party officials had taken Fang Binxing in for questions.

The report follows news that Chongqing officials were found to have tapped President Hu Jintao's phone conversation last August with a senior anti-graft official visiting Chongqing, a contributing factor in Bo's downfall last month, The New York Times reported last week.

Fang, president of Beijing University Posts and Telecommunications, is often called the father of the mainland's 'Great Firewall', a vast internet censorship system that the government uses to monitor online communications.

He is rumoured to have worked closely with former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun and allegedly provided Wang with surveillance technology that was used to spy on state leaders.

According to the Times, Wang enlisted several cybersecurity experts, including Fang, in running Bo's eavesdropping operations.

On Friday Fang wrote on his microblog that he had just returned from a two-day academic meeting and was surprised to read about his 'disappearance'.

'I reserve the right to sue for libel and I demand a public apology ... the Yomiuri seems to have used internet rumours as its source,' he wrote.

Takanori Kato, Yomiuri's China bureau chief, said he was unaware of Fang's threat and the newspaper had not received any formal complaint from him.

Dr Li Kaifu, president of Innovation Works and former chief of Google China, wrote on Fang's microblog that 'suing would be too troublesome. Just 'wall' it up'.

Fang replied that he was no longer involved in the online censorship system and no longer had access to it. 'The real hero should not talk about his glorious past,' Fang wrote. 'I am no longer in the post and no longer in the business.'

According to state media reports, Fang advised Chongqing on a new police information centre using cloud-based computing.