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Hope for release of Internet dissident Du Daobin

February 11, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that the case of Internet dissident Du Daobin has been referred back to the Public Security Bureau on the grounds of insufficient evidence, raising hopes that Du will soon be released in the same way as the Internet dissident he defended, Liu Di.

Du Daobin, a 39-year-old civil servant, was originally detained by officers of the Public Security Bureau of Yingcheng, Hubei Province, on October 28, 2003, following his dissemination through the Internet of petitions and pleas for the release of Liu Di, a college student also known as the Stainless Steel Mouse. Du had also published a number of articles on the Internet calling for political and social reform. PSB officers searched Du’s home and confiscated his computer, writings and communications files, and on November 12, 2003, Du was formally charged with “incitement to subvert state power.” Du’s case has raised widespread concern inside and outside of China, with Du himself becoming the subject of numerous petitions calling for his release.

According to HRIC’s sources, PSB officers told Du’s lawyer, Li Zongyi, on February 9 that the Public Procuratorate of Xiaogan City, Hubei, had referred the case back to the PSB. Sources familiar with Du Daobin’s case say that the Procuratorate’s action is similar to that taken shortly before Liu Di was released on bail on November 28. Some observers believe these cases indicate that following its accession to the World Trade Organization, the Chinese government is becoming increasingly sensitive to international scrutiny of its treatment of dissidents, especially those expressing themselves on the Internet.

“Du Daobin’s case is a classic example of the Chinese government’s suppression of free expression on the Internet,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “We welcome the Procuratorate’s rejection of the case, which suggests an official acknowledgement that arbitrary and heavy-handed prosecutions are no longer acceptable under the increased vigilance of concerned people inside and outside of China. HRIC strongly urges the Chinese authorities to release Du Daobin immediately, in light of official findings that he has no real case to answer.”