The Arrest Of The CCTV Reporter

(SCMP)  Mainland media warned off investigating CCTV journalist's detention.  Vivian Wu.  December 12, 2008.

Propaganda authorities have ordered a blanket ban on all media investigations into and reports on the controversial arrest last week of a China Central Television legal reporter by prosecutors in the Shanxi city of Taiyuan , media sources say.

The sources said the Central Publicity Department issued two orders to media organisations on Wednesday afternoon, prohibiting mainland journalists from following up on a Beijing Youth Daily report on Monday that CCTV reporter Li Min had been arrested.

The newspaper reported that the arrest was carried out at her Beijing home by four officers from Taiyuan's Xinghualing district prosecutors' office on the instructions of their chief, He Shusheng , and with the authorisation of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The arrest for alleged abuse of power followed an interview Li conducted with district prosecutors about claims Mr He had intervened in a financial dispute between a Taiyuan businessman, named Mr Hao and a Guangdong businessman named Mr Wu, the report said.

Mr Wu was arrested three times, the last time on a charge of libelling Mr He, but was released each time because of insufficient evidence.

But the Beijing Youth Daily also said Li had received an expensive gift from Mr Wu's younger brother.

The report set off a major public debate, with many questioning how a prosecutor from a distant city could order an arrest in Beijing and whether the Supreme People's Procuratorate's authorisation was warranted. Others questioned the professional ethics of state media reporters.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the Xinghualing district procuratorate suspected Li of taking bribes and using "the convenience of being a reporter to gain interests for others". Many mainland reporters sought to follow up on the statement by investigating the dispute between the two businessmen, and the involvement of Mr He and Li.

But the propaganda order effectively shut down those efforts. Editors at national newspapers were ordered not to continue reporting on the case and major portal websites were cautioned not to pick up any articles, especially ones with negative comments about prosecutors.

A Guangdong-based newspaper reporter said: "The first order arrived, to tell us no sensational reporting of the case, and the second order came quickly afterwards to urge us not to do any investigation and reporting at all. All media should only carry the Xinhua version."

A reporter from another weekly newspaper said she was stopped from taking a trip to Taiyuan.

Media sources said Taiyuan businessman Hao Jianxiu and Guangdong businessman Wu Xiaohui were influential multimillionaires involved in a dispute dating back to 2006 over ownership of land in Guangdong.

The sources said Mr Hao had the support of Taiyuan prosecutors who arrested Mr Wu three times for bribery, contract fraud and libel.

After his arrests, Mr Wu's family enlisted the Ministry of Public Security and many Guangdong People's Congress deputies to help press for his release.

One mainland reporter investigating the case said: "The arrest of a CCTV reporter is sensational, but what is more important is the possible connection between businessmen and procurators who make so big a fuss to arrest a reporter far away in Beijing.

"Are there more scandals behind this? If yes, it will be another example of the corruption and abuse of power in China. Everybody is curious, but we are hushed up now."

(Time Weekly via  Arrest of Female Reporter Revealed Case Within Case, Chief Prosecutor Had Been "Libeled" Before.  December 11, 2008.

On the evening of December 4, CCTV legal reporter Li Min was taken away from her Beijing home by four officers from the Xinghualing district procuratorate.  The procuratorate claimed that Li Min is suspected of accepting a bribe.

One month ago, Li Min had conducted interviewing at the procuratorate over a matter involving abuse of power.  After the news was reported, it was like a one stone setting off a thousand eddies: Is this another case of the "Xifeng county party secretary arresting a reporter" or "a reporter who is taking money under the table"?  China Youth Political Institute associate professor and lawyer Zhou Ze had provided legal aid to reporter Zhu Wenna in the Xifeng case, and he is now offering to defend Li Min for free.

Behind the arrest of Li Min is an economic dispute between two prominent rich businessmen.  Following the beating death of Lan Chengchang, the Sun Chunlong incident about the cover-up of the mining disaster, the gag-fee case for reporters, the county party secretary arresting the reporter and other cases, the arrest of Li Min has brought more confusion on the relationship between Shanxi province and reporters as well as the environment for public opinion in China.

Behind the arrest of Li Min is a case of economic dispute.  It was that other case that led Li Min to interview the Shanxi province Taiyuan city Xinghualing district procuratorate over abuse of authority and that eventually led to her own arrest.  After the arrest of Li Min, this case of economic dispute is beginning to surface.

On December 9, this reporter obtained the court docket from the lawyer of Wu Xiaohui, who is one of the two parties in the economic dispute.  The material indicated that the dispute involved a piece of land in Daya Bay.  The dispute began as early as 1993 and its history was rather complicated.

This economic dispute occurred in Hunan and Shanxi.  One side was the Guangdong province Huizhou city Zhongming Real Estate Limited Company chairman Wu Xiaohui.  The other side was the Shanxi province Taiyuan city businessman Hao Jianxiu.  It is worthwhile to note that Wu Xiaohui is a Hunan province Shaodong county people's congress representative while Hao Jianxiu is a National Communist Party Political Consultative Conference representative.

In 1992, the Huiyang Housing Development Company sold its right for 165,000 square meters of land in Xiayong Shatian, Daya Bay, Huizhou city, Guangdong province to the Daya Bay Pubao Company.  At the time, then Huiyang Housing Development Company vice president Wu Xiaohui represented his company to sign the contract.  After a series of capital reorganizations, the Shanxi province entrepreneur Hao Jianxiu obtained the rights to the land.  According to the family of Wu Xiaohui, Hao Jianxiu came to see Wu Xiaohui in March 2006, and asked Wu to buy the land back at twice the price.  Wu Xiaohui refused.

The case docket further indicated that Wu Xiaohui was arrested in July that year by the Taiyuan city Xinghualing public security bureau on suspicion of bribery.

In December 2006, the Taiyuan city Xinghualing public security bureau arrested Wu Xiaohui again, this time for fraud.  The public security bureau organized an investigative team to sift over the details, and concluded that Wu Xiaohui did not engage in fraud.  The bureau wrote twice to say that "this is a civil case which the public security bureau should not interfere with."

Subsequent to being released after his second arrest, Wu Xiaohui procured a lawyer to sue the Shanxi province public security bureau and procuratorate for abuse of authority.

This complaint led to the third arrest of Wu Xiaohui.  On January 17, 2008, the Xinghualing police and procuratorate once again arrested Wu Xiaohui, this time on the grounds that he committed libel against chief prosecutor He Shusheng through his lawsuit.

The case docket showed that this arrest drew the attention of various levels of people's congress delegates in Guangdong and Hunan provinces.  A total of 57 people's congress delegates including 3 national delegates and others from the provincial, city and county levels in Guangdong and Hunan signed a joint letter.

In July 2008, the Xinghualing police and procuratorate arrested Wu Xiaohui and his elder brother Wu Xiaoming for corruption.  According to lawyer Xie who represents Wu Xiaohui, Wu Xiaohui runs a private company and therefore it is hard to see how corruption is applicable.

The family of Wu Xiaohui told this reporter that the Shanxi police and procuratorate broke the law when they made the three arrests.  For example, they did not notify the local police when they crossed borders to make an arrest.  They also did not notify the Shaodong county people's congress that they had arrested one of their delegates.

This economic dispute is still unsolved at this time.  This was the reason why Wu Xiaohui went to the media with his story, and that caused Li Min to gather news at the Xinghualing procuratorate and be arrested recently.

After Wu Xiaohui's fourth arrest, his younger brother Wu Xiaohua began to reach out to the media for help.

In July 2008, Wu Xiaohua was introduced to Li Min, who began to pay attention to this case.  In November, Li Min and two other Beijing media reporters gathered news at the Xinghualing procuratorate.

Shortly afterwards on December 4, Li Min was taken from her Beijing home by the Taiyuan city Xinghualing district procuratorate on suspicion of taking a bribe.  According to Li Min's neighbor Ms. Yang, four procuratorate police officers knocked on the door claiming that "the floor was leaking water" to get her to open the door.  Then they produced an arrest warrant.  At the insistence of Ms. Yang's lawyer husband, the police produced a letter from the Supreme People's Procuratorate assigning jurisdiction of the case to their district procuratorate.  The letter indicated that Li Min was a criminal suspect, and it also listed the names of two other reporters at well-known Beijing media organizations.  One detail to note is that the letter was a copy and not an original.

Then the four police officers took Li Min, Yang and her husband to the Chaoyang district Nanmofang police station.  After the Beijing police went over the corresponding papers from Shanxi, Li Min was taken away by the four Shanxi police officers.

This reporter learned that the direct reason for Li Min's arrest was a 220,000 yuan Honda Accord paid for by Wu Xiaohua.  According to informed sources, the Xinghualing district procuratorate learned that Wu Xiaohua transferred 220,000 yuan to Li Ming, and thus they arrested Li Min for accepting a bribe.

A month ago, Wu Xiaohua had already been arrested by the Xinghualing district procuratorate.

There is a dramatic detail here in that after Wu Xiaohua met Li Min, he began to court her.  The neighbors and friends of Li Min also said that they were very intimate and they come and go together.  Their romance was warming up quickly, and Wu Xiaohua began to stay in Li Min's apartment.

According to a Beijing reporter who knows Li Min well, the 30-year-old Li Min is a celebrity within their small circle.  She is nice and generous, and she often pays the bill for meals.

Another friend of Li Min said that she is an extrovert who is very active and draws the attention of guys.  Li Min's uncle said that she is the only daughter and has bought an apartment in the East Third Ring area.  However, the uncle refused to disclose the timing of the purchase.

According to Li Min's close friend, Li Min and Wu Xiaohua began to date after the interviewing in Xinghualing was completed.  When Li Xin returned to Beijing from Xinghualing, Wu Xiaohua invited her to dinner.  Since Li Min was drinking at the time, she asked Wu Xiaohua to come and drink with her and her friends.  After getting drunk that time, Li Min began to go steady with Wu Xiaohua.  The 220,000 yuan that Wu Xiaohua gave Li Min was given after their romance began.

Li Min is a CCTV legal reporter, and she is also the lover of Wu Xiaohua.  This makes it harder for outsiders to tell what the truth of the matter is.

He Shusheng

The Taiyuan city Xinghualing district chief prosecutor He Shusheng is also involved within the case itself, and this has caused outsiders to question the actions of the procuratorate.

The questions focus on how the Xinghualing district procuratorate obtained the "jurisdiction order", whether He Shusheng and the Xinghualing district procuratorate should have excused themselves for conflicts of interests, and whether the gift from Wu Xiaohua to Li Min constitutes bribery.

According to Beijing Tianyou Law Office lawyer Ma Guohua, if the person who offered the bribe to the female reporter Li Min is Wu Xiaohua, then are the two supposed to be lovers or just two persons exploiting her job position?  How can the procuratorate tell the difference?

In the economic dispute between Wu Xiaohui and Shanxi province Taiyuan city businessman Hao Jianxiu, the Xinghualing district procuratorate and police went three times to Huizhou to arrest Wu Xiaohui and bring him back to Taiyuan for "bribery," "contract fraud" and "libel."  The victim of the 'libel' case was chief prosecutor He Shesheng.  According to the relevant laws, the Xinghualing procuratorate chief prosecutor should have excused himself.

On December 9, the Supreme People's Procuratorate stated on its official website (Justice Net) that it had made the decision on the jurisdiction for the case of Li Min.  On December 10, the official commentator at Justice Net wrote an essay titled <The arrest of the female reporter: the Shanxi Procuratorate did not do anything improper>.  That essay explained from four different angles that "the actions of the Shanxi procuratorate are completely legal with nothing wrong."

This move made the affair even more suspicious.  A lawyer said that the public security bureau had written that the case of Wu Xiaohui was a civil dispute.  Yet the Xinghualing district procuratorate insists on taking on the case, to the point of arresting Wu Xiaohui four times  The Supreme People's Procuratorate did not stop these actions.  In fact, it even provided support for the Xinghualing district procuratorate in the following case of Li Min.

After Li Min was arrested, He Shusheng became the center of public opinion.  According to a report in China Youth Daily, the reporter who accompanied Li Min to conduct interviews at the Xinghualing district procuratorate played a recorded telephone conversation: "You will be punished, you will have your press cards cancelled, you better not be sorry later!"  He Shusheng asked the reporters not to interview anyone and get out of Taiyuan immediately.

By coincidence, He Shusheng had been involved in more than one "libel" case.  According to Southern Metropolis Daily, in February 2002, He Shusheng was then the chief prosecutor at the Taiyuan city Jiancaoping district procuratorate when his name appeared in an essay titled <The Complete List of Corrupt Chinese Government Officials>.  This essay was published in issue 4 of the periodical <Entering WTO> in 2002, and it listed 150 officials including their names and departments.  The list included people like Cheng Kejie and Hu Changqing.  On November 25, 2003, the Jiancaoping district court ruled that <Entering WTO> (Liaoning Global Multilateral Trade Organization Information and Research Center) must pay He Shusheng 95,000 yuan for economic losses as well as 360,000 yuan to compensate for his mental suffering.

During this reporter's interviews with people in Taiyuan, he received two different types of assessments of He Shusheng.  One government official said that He Shusheng gave him the impression of being crude and publicity-seeking.  Another assessment said that He Shusheng was capable and competent.

"There is no way that we can be wrong!  Li Min has some extremely serious problems.  The evidence is clear, the problems are huge and the impact is extremely bad.  This is rarely seen in China."  He Shusheng said unequivocally while discussing the case of Li Min.

After Li Min was arrested, China Youth Political Institute associate professor and lawyer Zhou, who had provided legal assistance to the reporter Zhu Wenna in the "Xifeng county party secretary arrests a reporter" case, volunteered to defend Li Min for free.

Zhou Ze said that the Xinghualing district procuratorate is acting illegally from a procedural perspective.  According to the article 28 of the <Criminal Prosecution Law>, the prosecutorial staff should excuse themselves automatically if they are related to the principals in other ways, so as not to influence the fairness."  Zhou Ze said that Li Min had previously interviewed at the Xinghualing district procuratorate for a critical report.  Thus, even if there is a complaint that Li Min was being bribed for that story, the procuratorate should have excused itself "or else there is the suspicion of retaliation."

"I am providing legal assistance to Li Min because I care about and want to protect the right of reporters to live and gather news.  I want to prevent the authorities from suppressing media supervision."  Zhou Ze said to our reporter.

On December 9, Zhou Ze wrote a blog post titled: "Strongly condemn the Shanxi procuratorate for arresting a reporter, intimidating journalists and destroying monitoring by public opinion."  The blog post began this way: "December 4, 2008 is a day to remember for Chinese journalists!  On this day, the Shanxi province Taiyuan city Xinghualing district procuratorate made a show of force against Chinese journalists!  -- they arrested the CCTV female reporter Li Min who was covering the abuse of authority at the procuratorate.  They are warning journalists: Li Min is the example for anyone else who wants to expose our problems!"

The blog post enumerates the various suspicious points in the case of Li Min.  It even pointed out directly that the procuratorate was breaking the law and thus: "this bad results of this case are that no reporters will dare to file negative reports or conduct watchdog journalism because of the threat of unforeseen accusations of receiving bribes!"

Zhou Ze's move drew the applause from many reporters.  Some reporters even gave him the title "The Guardian God of the Reporters" in their stories.

But his move was "criticized" by China Youth Political Institute School of Journalism and Communication dean Zhan Jiang.  The latter said that the problem within media circles is the tendency to always help the weaker side.  Very few details are known about the case of Li Min's arrest, and therefore it is hard to make a judgment.  The procuratorate is suspect, but the reporter is not totally clean either.  This case is therefore not identical to the case of the "Xifeng county party secretary arresting a reporter."

China Renmin University School of Journalism vice-dean professor Yu Guoming shares a similar view.  Yu Guoming said that the professional status of a reporter means that he is always in the middle of a swirling storm of conflicting interests, and this makes it easy for the reporter to err or be subjected to administrative frame-up or retaliation.  In the Li Min affair, the Xinghualing district procuratorate has a conflict of interest with Li Min, and they will find it hard to eliminate the suspicion of retaliation.  Therefore, they should excuse themselves and give the case to a third party to handle.

On December 4, the same day when Li Min was arrested, <Democratic and Legal System Times> Guangdong province bureau chief Jing Jianfeng was put on trial in Liyuan county, Luliang city, Shanxi province for interfering with public business, harboring illicit goods and receiving a bribe.  Previously, Jing Jianfeng had written many exposés of corrupt activities.  The history of clashes between Shanxi province and reproters also includes the gag-fees affair, Sun Chunlong exposing the cover-up of the mining disaster, Lan Chengchang being beaten to death ... some of these hurt the image of reporters, while others defend the honor of the profession of journalism.

Once again, public opinion is collapsing into clamor and chaos.

(Times of IndiaWoman reporter sent to jail in China   August 4, 2009.

A woman journalist in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi has been sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve on charges of corruption. This is a rare case of a female journalist working for the powerful state broadcaster, CCTV, being sent to prison.

The official media said the 31-year old reporter, Li Min, admitted to have taken a bribe and even chose to skip the opportunity to appeal against the verdict of the lower court to the higher judiciary. But there are serious questions about how her confession was obtained. Earlier reports suggest that LiíŽs lawyers had questioned how the local prosecutors could investigate the charges against her when they were themselves involved in the matter.

Li was arrested when she was trying to expose the local prosecutors for allegedly harassing a businessman. The local authorities had earlier told the media that she was romantically linked to the brother of the concerned businessman besides taking bribes for exposing the prosecutors.

The past two years has been several journalists being dragged to courts and punished on charges of bribe taking from various sources including owners of illegal mines where serious accidents take place. In some cases, Chinese authorities were forced to back down and withdraw cases against journalists after massive protests were registered over the Internet about officials abusing legal tools to beat down jouranalists investigating official corruption. This may be the first case in many months involving a female journalist.

The court accepted the allegations made by prosecutors of Xinghualing in Shanxi while passing the judgement. The four-year reprieve provides a time-lag in implementing the three-year jail sentence, which she might be able to avoid if she can prove good conduct during this time.

Li's attorney Zhou Ze had gone to the extent of challenging the decision of the Supreme Procuratorate, which asked the Xinghualing office to investigate the bribe taking charges against the reporter.

There is also some divergence in official claims about the amount of bribe received by Li. He Shusheng, the chief prosecutor of Xinghualing office, earlier said Li received 200,000 yuan ($29,100). But she was finally sentenced for taking about one-sixth of this amount.

Li was not alone in making journalistic inquiries into claims that the local prosecutors had improperly intervened in a dispute involving two businessmen. Two other reporters from Beijing Times and the Legal Daily were with her during the research on the role of the Xinghualing prosecutors. But the other two reporters have so far escaped severe punishment.