Journalist Liu Hu, accuser of Chinese government minister, is formally arrested for defamation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 6:12pm

Prosecutors in Beijing have formally approved the arrest of journalist Liu Hu, who faces libel charges seven weeks after he was taken away from his home in Chongqing by police.

The journalist for the Shenzhen-based Modern Express had called for an investigation into Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, on his Sina Weibo account.

Liu’s Sina Weibo account has since been deactivated. Police had first confirmed his arrest in August, accusing him of fabricating and spreading rumours.

His arrest, confirmed by Beijing prosecutors to the Bejiing News on Thursday afternoon, comes amid a crackdown on critical voices in Chinese social media and follows the detention of whistleblower Zhou Lubao, who also gained prominence for exposing corruption online. Zhou has since been charged with extortion.

Zhou Ze, a Beijing-based lawyer, said on Thursday that Liu had been formally arrested on September 30 on libel charges.

The outcome of Liu’s call for an investigation is in stark contrast to the fate of another senior journalist, Luo Changping, who last year made similar public accusations against Liu Tienan, the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission.

In August, Liu Tienan was sacked from his post, expelled from the Communist Party and placed under investigation.