A respected journalist in China who reported an important story about that nation's stock market fluctuations was held by police, who say he was "spreading false information."
"Chinese authorities' hypersensitivity to fluctuations in the financial markets is no reason to intimidate and jail a journalist for covering the news," the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. "We call on Chinese authorities to immediately release Wang Xiaolu."
By CPJ's count, China leads the world in the number of journalists currently in prison.
More from CPJ on this case:
Police arrived at Wang's home, showed the journalist a summons, and took Wang into custody, according to the Chinese government's official press agency, Xinhua. The journalist has been accused of "fabricating and spreading false information about securities and futures trading." Chinese authorities have not publicly disclosed whether Wang has been formally charged.
Wang was summoned along with 10 other individuals from a securities company and a securities regulatory agency and asked to "assist with investigations" into illegal stock market activities, according to Xinhua. Caijing released a statement on Wednesday, saying it had not received a notice from the police.
Wang wrote an article for the magazine on July 20 that said the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) was examining ways for securities companies to withdraw funds from the stock market, according to the Caijing statement. The New York Times reported that the article was considered to have contributed to the plunge in Chinese stocks in late July.
The same day the article was published, the CSRC denied the story and called it "irresponsible," according to news reports. Caijing said that it was asked by publishing and securities regulatory agencies to provide an explanation about the reporting and editing process of the article. It is unclear when the agencies requested the information.
In July, the Chinese government pumped tens of billions of yuan into the stock market through dozens of securities companies, who received funds from the state-owned China Securities Finance Corp (CSFC), to stabilize the market, according to news reports. This week, the Chinese stock market has been very volatile. Chinese authorities ordered the domestic media to delete specific articles on the stock market moves, according to the China Digital Times. Three of the leading state media outlets–the People's Daily, Xinhua, and China Central Television–have not covered the story, The New York Times reported.
With at least 44 journalists in jail, China was the leading jailer of journalists in the world, according to a prison census CPJ conducted on December 1.