According to a story from China’s Economic Observer, a reporter with the Chongqing Morning Post has been sentenced to labor re-education after posting “unacceptable speech” on the Tianya Forum in the wake of the recent raid on the Hilton Chongqing.
The Economic Observer also said two other reporters from Chongqing Morning Post, a commercial spin-off of the official Chongqing Daily, were taken in for questioning by police after sharing “unacceptable content” (不当内容) through the QQ instant messaging service.
The Chongqing Morning Post has reportedly requested that its employees keep quiet about the matter as they deal with the authorities.
The Economic Observer journalist reported learning from “several channels” that the two reporters taken in for questioning had returned to work. The reporter sentenced to labor re-education, however, would likely be formally charged “owing to the seriousness of the matter.”
Government authorities in Chongqing have made no formal announcement about the actions against these journalists.
The Economic Observer, with offices in Jinan, Shandong Province, and editorial operations in Beijing, is a nationally-circulated commercial newspaper published by the Sanlian Group, which also publishes Lifeweek magazine.
UPDATE: The Beijing News follows up on the Chongqing Morning Post reporters under pressure story today, June 25. The Beijing News has confirmed that Chongqing Morning Post reporters Chen Songbo (陈宋波) and Qiu Jinyi (裘晋奕), and an employee for the paper’s website, Liao Yi (廖异), have been investigated. Chen and Qiu have reportedly returned to work, while Liao is still being investigated.
Special thanks to orangeking for the valuable insight as we’ve followed this story. A portion of the story today from The Beijing News follows:
Yesterday evening at around 6pm, Deng Song (邓松), head of the publicity division of the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau, said that some people at Chongqing Morning Post had posted rumors online that impacted the normal social order, and police are continuing their investigation. Deng Song also said that information online had said this person [in question] had been sent to labor re-education, but this is not true, and Chongqing Morning Post would soon issue a statement making this clear.
At around 7:30pm yesterday, the Chongqing Morning Post placed a statement in a prominent position on its website. The statement said: “On June 24, the news that ‘a reporter from Chongqing Morning Post has been sentenced to labor re-education for [sharing] unacceptable information’ traveled through the internet. This newspaper firmly states that: action has been taken by the police against no journalist or other employee of Chongqing Morning Post. In this statement, we clearly deny that any journalist from this newspaper has been punished by the police, but we do not deny that journalists from this newspaper have been investigated by the police.
It is certainly worth noting, as The Beijing News did, that police in Chongqing announced that a statement from the Chongqing Morning Post was forthcoming. That has to raise questions about how active the police have been in managing the fallout from this news.