A Chinese journalist working for German newspaper Die Zeit has been languishing in jail for more than three months, a sign that the government’s political crackdown has been extended to include foreign media, the Financial Times reported.
The German paper on Wednesday published a harrowing account of the continued detention of Zhang Miao, who worked as an assistant to Angela Kockritz, Die Zeit’s Beijing correspondent who has since left China.
The case highlights the risks taken by Chinese nationals working for foreign media organizations in China, who are often subjected to official suspicion and attempts by the authorities to intimidate them, FT said, adding that her three-month detention is extraordinary even by Chinese standards.
Zhang, who is currently detained at the Tongzhou prison near Beijing, was allowed to see a lawyer for the first time on Dec. 10, more than two months after he was detained on Oct. 2.
Asked about Zhang’s detention on Oct. 13, the foreign ministry said she had been working without proper accreditation. Chinese nationals are not allowed to work as reporters for foreign news outlets, although they can work as assistants if hired through the government.
Zhang’s detention was first reported on Oct. 2, a day after she returned from covering the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where she posted photos of the street rallies on her WeChat account.
Die Zeit decided to stop publicizing Zhang’s case soon after in order to seek her release.
The paper said on Wednesday: “We did not want to complicate diplomatic efforts being made to secure [Zhang’s] release. But since these have yet to yield any result, we consider it necessary to make public now the fate of our colleague Zhang Miao.”
It is believed that many other Chinese tourists in Hong Kong who posted photos of the protests on social media were also detained for questioning at the time.
The paper has received no further information on what charges Ms Zhang is facing, or any explanation for her continued detention, other than that she “created a public disturbance” — a standard phrase in China in politically sensitive arrests.
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