Singer Wu Hongfei's 'bomb threat' innocent outburst, lawyers say

Microblog 'threat' to blow up buildings just innocent burst of anger, they insist

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 10:22am

A Beijing rock singer's microblog post about blowing up government buildings was an innocent expression of frustration, her lawyers said over the weekend.

The outspoken musician, Wu Hongfei , was detained by police after listing the local housing commission among the places she "wants" to blow up in a July 21 Sina Weibo post.

The post came just hours after an angry petitioner injured himself by setting off a home-made bomb at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Wu is being held under suspicion of "making up false terrorism information", according to a report in the Beijing Times yesterday. The charge carries a potential prison sentence of five years.

Her lawyers contend that the singer was only venting her anger about her personal experience with a government agency.

"This case is significant in terms of clarifying the differences between freedom of expression on the internet and a criminal offence," Wu's lawyers said in a statement. "We firmly believe that - based on existing information - Wu has committed no crime."

On her microblog, Wu wrote: "The places I want to blow up include a residential committee at the Beijing Personnel Exchange Centre and the fxxxing [sic] Housing commission offices. And there's one person I want to bomb, I wont tell who he is. You'll find that in the news."

Wu's Weibo account has nearly 120,000 followers, and authorities might also try to punish her for making inappropriate comments as a public figure.

Wu has shown public support for activists including artist Ai Weiwei and environmental campaigner Tan Zuoren . She has won much sympathy online, with 81 per cent of the nearly 25,000 respondents to an online survey agreeing she is innocent. The survey was conducted by China Central Television on Sina Weibo on Saturday.

"'Terrorism information' refers to comments such as 'I installed a bomb somewhere' or 'a deadly infectious disease is spreading', which would cause public panic," said lawyer Yuan Yulai , who is not representing Wu. "But Wu was only saying she 'feels like doing something'. The difference is obvious."

Chen Hongguo , an associate law professor at Northwest University of Politics and Law in Shaanxi province, called the Beijing police detention of Wu "arbitrary" and "overreacting".