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Police 'sorry' blogger was detained
By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-18 08:01

A senior provincial police official has apologized publicly for detaining a person on charges of defaming the government in his blog, or web log, which criticized a local policy related to illegal acquisition of farmland.

"There was not enough evidence to arrest Wang Shuai on defamation charges," said Qin Yuhai, director of Henan provincial public security bureau, in an online interview to the website, www.people.com.cn, on Thursday. "I would like to apologize to Wang and his family as I am partly responsible for the incident."

The 24-year-old Shanghai resident had on Feb 12 accused the city government of Lingbao, his hometown in Henan province, of illegally acquiring farmland. The Lingbao police traveled to Shanghai and arrested Wang on March 6. He was detained for eight days on charges of defamation, but was later released on bail.

"One can only be charged for defamation when the accusation is completely made-up and is intended to harm the public," said Qin. "Wang's action doesn't match any of the criteria."

"We have dropped the charges against Wang and his case was dismissed on April 15," the municipal public security bureau of Lingbao stated in a press release. "We will send someone to Shanghai and apologize to Wang personally." Wang will be compensated as per the State Compensation Law, the release stated.

"Wang's case has exposed the danger of some local bureaus following arbitrary judgment rather than the law in some rare cases," said Qin. "The personnel responsible for his detention will be punished."

"We recognize that the Internet is the 'new channel' for public opinion," said Qin, "We take public tip-offs seriously; investigations will be launched as soon as any accusation is proved to be true." Qin's apology earned for the police a lot of praise from the online community.

"The government has not acted unfairly in requisitioning farmland for development," a Lingbao government official who refused to be named, said. But he admitted that some farmers had complaints over compensation.

Wang said he had reported the city government's misuse of farmland for developing an industrial zone, to the local Land Administration Bureau. Wang received no response from the authority even after six months, and so had decided to express his views on his blog.

(China Daily 04/18/2009 page3)