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China: Cross-Province Hunting of an Investigative Reporter

Zhou Xiaoyun, an investigative reporter based in China's Guangdong province, is being hunted by Jiangsu Province, Funing County's government authority, after he exposed a corruption scandal. Since August 14, 2012, Zhou has been calling for help via various social media platforms.

Around 10:30am on August 14, the following post [zh] appeared on Zhou's timeline on the micro-blogging site Sina Weibo. At the time of writing the post this has been forwarded more than 15,700 times:

Zhou Xiaoyun's profile picture at Sina Weibo.

【周筱赟因揭黑遭跨省!】我揭露江苏阜宁县下文件安置61名判刑领导刑满重新入编,当地承认文件真实但强调完全合法,遭我驳斥后,竟派6名领导昨天飞到广州对我跨省!发誓一定要挖出周筱赟!通过各种关系传话,先威胁再利诱,查我银行账号想干吗?竟还有自称美女网友想搞色诱。阜宁县政府你还要不要脸?

[Zhou Xiaoyun is being hunted by cross-province authorities after exposing a corruption scandal] I exposed the official document of Jiansu Funing county which re-appoints 61 criminals back into the civil service. The local government has already confirmed that the document is genuine, but stressed that the arrangement is absolutely legal. I rebut their argument. Then they flew 6 leaders to Guangzhou yesterday and swore that they would dig out Zhou Xiaoyun. They transmitted their messages via different channels, first using a threatening tone, and then they tried to entrap me – why do they want my bank account (information)? Then a self-proclaimed pretty online fan tried to seduce me. Shame on you, Funing county government!

The term “cross-province hunting” 跨省追捕 is used to describe a local authority that exercise power outside its jurisdiction. The authority would abduct the suspect back to their jurisdiction for trial. But in the past few years, more and more cross-province hunting activities have taken place targeting netizens from outside the province who have exposed local authorities’ corruption via the Internet. Zhou added [zh] further information in the afternoon:

阜宁县这次派出6名主要领导,带队的是阜宁县委宣传部部长,人高马大,气势汹汹闯进来,但没找到我。从江苏阜宁到广东广州,横跨这么多省,机票钱应该是纳税人买单吧?还托了各种老乡的老乡、同学的同学来带话,要当面找我谈谈,被我拒绝。查我银行账号是想栽赃吗?对于色诱,我是不是要将计就计呢?

The Funing county has sent 6 major officials. The leader is the head of the propaganda department. He is a huge guy, he  rushed into the office full of anger. But he could not find me. Jiansu Funing is so far away from Guangdong Guangzhou. They have to cross many provinces and their plane tickets have to be paid by taxpayers. They managed to find my county fellows’ buddies and my school mates’ school mates to pass messages to me, saying they wanted to talk to me face to face. I refused. They checked on my bank account. Is this some kind of framing? As for the seduction, this is quite tempting…

Zhou Xiaoyun's report was published [zh] in the newspaper Nanfang Weekend in August 9, 2012. The investigative report revealed that the Funing County government has re-appointed 61 former officials who had been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges of corruption, to the civil service. According to the leaked document, the 61 officials were given the option of either receiving their salaries without actually carrying out their duties, or retiring with the full pension and benefits enjoyed by all other government officials.

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