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Foshan Web editor detained for ‘rumor’ accusing gov’t prosecutors of prostitution

Posted: 03/5/2012 9:05 am

At 5pm on February 17, Shang Laicheng, a Web editor with Foshan’s popular local Tian Tian Xin forum (TTX), was intercepted by cops as he got off work in the city’s Chancheng district.

Shang’s arrest was made so suddenly, writes Southern Metropolis Daily, that Shang’s colleagues, caught off guard, chose to wait it out. Ten days later, Shang still hadn’t shown up for work, and his absence online led to a lot of whining readers; his phone remained shut off and, with no family in the area, Shang remained equally unreachable.

Up in Shanxi province, however, Shang’s family received notice on Day 10 from Foshan’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) of his criminal detention on charges of suspicion of malicious slander.

Police in Foshan say Shang was detained for reposting an article alleging that two procurators in Chancheng had recently been caught soliciting sex, but were allowed to walk free the next morning.

The online article, published on TTX at 9am on the day of Shang’s arrest, was read over a thousand times before it was deleted two hours later by Jingjing and Chacha. Shang posted it to the forum using a temporarily registered account, “Zheng Yi Zhi Yin” (The voice of justice), which police were able to quickly track to its owner.

As for what was written, the Foshan Procuratorate refuted it as rumor through its official Weibo account, saying that the post in question was a total fabrication which caused damage to the reputation of judicial authorities. The text has been translated by Penn Olson here:

After Spring Festival, the two prosecutors from the Foshan Chancheng District prosecutors’ office received ‘one-stop service’ from our sisters [i.e., prostitutes] at a sauna, and were caught completely naked at the scene by police from the Zumiao PSB substation. But the two were driving around and strolling the streets the next day, they didn’t get in any trouble whatsoever. Boo hoo, and yet our sisters are still suffering.

Given the Procuratorate’s direct role in the scandal, however, the refutation left netizens unconvinced.

Following an investigation, police discovered that Shang was not the original author of the post, but had only reposted it, and decided to lighten Shang’s penalty from criminal detention to administrative detention of 10 days. Shang was finally released on the evening of February 28.

Shang and his employer’s lawyers told Southern Metropolis Daily that they will appeal to the Foshan PSB for a review of the case and demand compensation.

Is the onus on publishers to verify all content they put out? Shang has since said he realizes he was wrong to not do so, but added that his lawyer will be handling all further matters related to his case.

Police in Foshan, meanwhile, claim to have come closer to identifying the source of the text, revealing that it was published to a separate local forum, Shi Er Qian (诗二千), on the evening of February 16.

Shang, following his release.

Southern Metropolis Daily quotes law experts who comment that Shang’s behavior in this case doesn’t constitute the crime of making a false accusation, as the post never disclosed any specific names. Based on legal procedure, they argue, even if the content of the post was untrue, the PSB ought to have provided evidence to refute the rumor instead of directly applying a criminal penalty.

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