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Guo Wengui

Voice of America fires three staff over explosive Guo Wengui interview

Washington-based journalists Sasha Gong Xiaoxia and Dong Fang interviewed the fugitive Chinese tycoon at an undisclosed location on April 19

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 4:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 7:13am

Voice of America, a US government-funded broadcaster, has sacked three suspended staff members over their involvement in a live streaming interview with self-exiled Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui half a year ago, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

The IFJ, a global federation of journalistic trade unions, has called on the international news source to explain the terminations.

Washington-based journalists Sasha Gong Xiaoxia and Dong Fang interviewed Beijing-wanted billionaire Guo, who is also known as Miles Kwok, at a location that was not disclosed for Guo’s protection on April 19.

During the live stream, Guo accused numerous top Chinese officials or their relatives, including former top graft buster, Wang Qishan, of taking huge bribes, without providing solid evidence.

The interview, originally expected to last three hours, was abruptly halted. Five Voice of America staff members, including Gong and Dong Fang as well as Yang Chen, Bao Shen and Li Su, were ordered to take administrative leave with pay amid an investigation.

Staff suspended at Voice of America after interview with fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui

The IFJ said in a statement issued on Sunday that both Yang and Bao had resumed their work while the employment of Gong, Dong Fang and Li Su, a technician, had been terminated. The three staff members had allegedly violated certain regulations, including disobeying management’s orders and failing to follow journalistic practices, according to the IFJ.

Gong denied the allegations and said she would fight her termination, according to the IFJ.

“They (Voice of America) could not tell me which order I had disobeyed,” Gong was quoted. “I don’t understand how I had not followed the journalistic practice.”

In May, the broadcaster told the South China Morning Post in an email that the suspension of the five Voice of America Mandarin service employees had nothing to do with the desires of either the US or Chinese governments.

Wanted Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui blames ‘spy’ in US broadcaster Voice of America for pulling plug on interview

It said the decisions were “based on the journalistic principles of verification, balance and fairness that are standard industry practice and apply universally to all VOA services”.

“There was no input whatsoever from the US government ... Pressure from the Chinese government played no role in any decision-making,” it said.