Local police in Chongqing admitted they had wrongfully detained a local government worker, Qin Zhongfei (秦中飞), for writing and transmitting by mobile phone a poem satirizing local leaders in the municipality’s Pengshui County. The announcement came just weeks after Chinese commercial media took Qin’s story (and his satirical poem) to a national audience [Coverage by Danwei.org and Law Professor’s Blog].
Qin Zhongfei’s lawyer, Li Gang (李纲), told reporters yesterday that they had received formal notification of the case’s dismissal because “criminal action should not have been taken against Qin Zhongfei”. Qin has also received 2,125.7 yuan (US$260) in “national compensation” from the prosecutor’s office for the error, media reported.
The investigation against Qin by local Pengshui County police began on September 1, and Qin was arrested on September 11. By October 19 various commercial media in China, including Southern Weekend and Southern Metropolis Daily, were attacking the action against Qin.
In a Southern Metropolis Daily “personal viewpoint” column on October 21, a professor from Nanjing wrote: “About this case, one can’t help recalling U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech in 1941 on the ‘Four Freedoms‘. Two of Roosevelt’s freedoms were, ‘freedom of speech and expression’ and ‘freedom from fear’. Qin Zhongfei has, for the sake of the first freedom, lost the second”.
Internet users responding to news the case against Qin had been dropped asked what might have happened had media not stepped in. “First of all, if the media hadn’t gotten involved, this case might have gone all the way,” wrote one netizen. “Qin Zhongfei is nothing compared to China, Chongqing and Pengshui County. It’s no big deal for them to punish you without cause, to break up your family, to take 10 or 20 people associated with your family and drag them down into hell for eternity. So the media gets involved, so what? They send over a few cops to get Qin Zhongfei out, they apologize and pay him a bit of money, but nothing happens to the officials. It’s a wrongful case, so the national government pays!”
Another responded: “Wrongful case, the government pays? Doesn’t the money paid [to Qin] come from the blood and sweat of the taxpayers? In this county, at the People’s Congress, at the Politics and Law Committee, at the Public Security Bureau, at the Procurator’s Office . . . don’t any of them know the law?”
[Posted by David Bandurski, October 26, 2006, 11:10am]