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Haze Fan worked for Bloomberg’s bureau in Beijing. Photo: Twitter

China says it has released Bloomberg staffer Haze Fan on bail

  • Fan was detained in December 2020 on suspicion of endangering national security
  • The news agency says it was ‘encouraged’ by a statement from the Chinese embassy in the US but has not yet been able to contact her
Bloomberg News said on Tuesday it was “encouraged” to learn that Chinese authorities had apparently released its employee Haze Fan on bail, more than a year after she was detained for suspected national security violations.
Fan, a Chinese national who worked for the US news outlet’s bureau in Beijing, was detained in December 2020, a few months after Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei was held on similar charges.

According to a statement on the Chinese embassy in Washington website dated last month, authorities have released her although she remains under investigation pending trial.

“At the request of Fan’s lawyer, China’s state security authority decided to release her on bail in January 2022,” the statement said.

Bloomberg News said in a Tuesday news report it was only made aware of the statement last weekend, and had not been able to contact Fan.

Verdict deferred after Australian journalist Cheng Lei faces closed trial

“We are encouraged that Haze is out on bail,” Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said.

“She is a much valued member of our Beijing bureau – and we will continue to do everything possible to help her and her family.”

The Chinese embassy statement, dated May 6, was in response to an advert last month by the Washington Post for World Press Freedom Day, which featured Fan.

She was last seen being escorted from her apartment building by plainclothes security officials in December 2020, and formally arrested in July last year on suspicion of committing crimes endangering national security.

China is one of the world’s most hostile places for journalists, ranked 175th out of 180 countries in a list published earlier this year by Reporters Without Borders.

Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei was detained in 2020. Photo: AP

Reporters frequently face harassment and intimidation in the country, while some regions are off-limits to most media.

Overseas outlets are banned from hiring Chinese citizens as journalists, although they can recruit them as news assistants.

The Chinese embassy’s statement said Fan’s case had “nothing to do with her status as a foreign media employee”.

“The case is still under investigation according to law and Fan’s legitimate rights and interests have been fully protected,” it said.

Hong Kong plunges to record low 148th in world press freedom rankings

Cheng, a mother of two and a former anchor on Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, was detained in August 2020 and formally arrested last year for “illegally supplying state secrets overseas”.

In March, a Chinese court deferred sentencing Cheng at a closed-door trial that Canberra condemned for a “lack of transparency”.