Liu Xiaobo

Mainland Chinese driver for Hong Kong reporters arrested after Liu Xiaobo service

Officers also search i-Cable’s Guangzhou office, after broadcaster covers service for late dissident

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 11:10pm

A mainland driver working for a Hong Kong television station was taken away on suspicion of “disturbing social order” after the broadcaster covered a memorial service for late Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo.

About eight plain-clothes policemen also searched i-Cable’s Guangzhou bureau on Wednesday night, lawyers with knowledge of the incident said.

That came a week after the broadcaster covered the observance staged by about 10 of Liu’s supporters on July 19, where activists placed an empty chair, laid flowers and lit candles.

The driver, Li Zhaoqiang, had taken an i-Cable reporter to the event in Jiangmen, Guangdong province. He was arrested in Guangzhou.

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“They have placed restraining measures on three i-Cable employees, and searched around the bureau for two hours before taking away a few documents,” one of the lawyers, who refused to be named, said.

“They have not presented any identification nor official paperwork,” the lawyer said, adding that Li was “taken away on suspicion of disturbing social order.”

Li was on Friday night locked up in a detention centre in the Xinhui district of Jiangmen. A second lawyer said it was the first time Li, who had worked for i-Cable for about 11 years, had been detained.

The second lawyer said local public security had been delaying a meeting with Li and his lawyers to discuss procedural matters.

A spokesman for i-Cable on Thursday confirmed the driver was taken away by authorities.

He said the station was “trying to understand the reasons behind this via different means, and has offered the driver legal help.”

Liu died in custody on July 13 in a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province, where he had been treated for liver cancer. He was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for writing the pro-democracy manifesto Charter 08, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.

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The whereabouts of his widow Liu Xia, who had been under house arrest, remain unknown.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemned authorities for holding Li “without offering reasonable explanation”. It urged them to explain the reasons for his detention or release him.

Law Yuk-kai, director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, said: “It might not be easy for them to [arrest] Hong Kong journalists and so they decided to take away the mainland staff hired by the Hong Kong media.

“They are trying to send a warning signal to the Hong Kong media.”