RFA News: China Frees Documentary Filmmaker

China Aid Association
HONG KONGhe Chinese authorities have released independent filmmaker
and
blogger Wu Hao after holding him at an undisclosed location since
February, his sister and colleagues told Radio Free Asia.

A permanent resident of the United States who lived there from
1992-2004,
Wu was detained by the Beijing division of China State Security
Bureau
on the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006.

His Shanghai-based sister Nina Wu confirmed his release to RFA’s
Mandarin
service.

“He has been released. But I don’t really know the details because I’m
not
in Beijing right now…He came out Tuesday afternoon,” she told
reporter
Lin Di.

But she was reluctant to say more. “As soon as I get any more details
I’ll
post them to my blog…I need to take some time to discuss this
properly
with the rest of the family,” she said.

The news of Wu’s release came on Nina Wu’s blog, which she has used to
rally international support for her younger brother, who returned to
China
to pursue his dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

News released by blog
“Just got a call at home and been informed that Wu Hao is out,” said
the
brief posting dated July 11, 2006. “Thank you everyone for your
concern,
but he needs some silence for now. If there is any new information it
will
be posted on this blog,” she wrote.

On the afternoon he was detained, Wu had met in Beijing with the
congregation of a Christian church not recognized by the Chinese
government, as part of the filming of his next documentary.

China’s Communist regime tolerates strictly controlled and officially
recognized Christian churches, but it cracks down harshly on any
unofficial religious movements with a strong popular following, fearing
that they might grow powerful enough to overthrow it.

China has seen an upsurge in the number of people turning to religion
in
the last decade, as sweeping social changes and rampant official
corruption leave many who formerly benefited from the cradle-to-grave
socialist welfare system looking for meaning and emotional stability.

Wu also worked part-time for the Harvard-backed Global Voices Online
Weblog, selecting blog entries of interest from the Northeast Asian
region
for daily summaries.

Detention likely not for blogging
But Global Voices co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon said his detention was
probably not linked to his editorial work on that site.

“We don’t know why he was arrested, but we think it probably isn’t
related
to the work he did for us,” she told RFA. “We tried our best. We all
felt
that what we did wasn’t enough.”

MacKinnon wrote an article appealing on behalf of Wu in the Washington
Post, which coincided with last month’s official visit by Chinese
president Hu Jintao to the United States.

“Of course we’re very happy that he’s been released. I’m not sure about
the details. I just know he’s at home with his father and a friend and
he’s resting. He must be very tired.”

She said Global Voices had been unable to find out Wu’s whereabouts
during
his detention. “He was held somewhere in Beijing because he lived in
Beijing. But we don’t know exactly where he was being held,” MacKinnon
added.

Support for Wu was strong across the blogosphere, with hundreds of
fellow
bloggers posting on Nina and Hao story, as well as putting up Free
Hao
Wu tags to publicize his case.

Secret detention
Nina Wu’s blog served as the centerpoint in the campaign to have Hao
released, recounting the hostility she encountered during repeated and
unsuccesful attempts to gain any information on her brother
whereabouts.

The campaign reached a low point in late May, when Nina, frustrated,
and
fearing how the news would affect her parents?health, wrote that her
brother had been denied access to a lawyer.

Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
voiced
mmense relief?at the news Wu’s release.

et us not forget, however, that Hao was kidnapped by the Chinese
security services, which violated his most basic rights by claiming
that
his case was a matter of national security,?RSF said in a statement on
its Web site.

t the same time, 50 other people are currently in prison in China for
writing about ubversive?subjects online,?Reporters Without Borders
continued. hina is by far the world biggest prison for bloggers and
cyber-dissidents. We would also like to pay tribute to the courage of
this
blogger sister, who battled relentlessly for his release?

Original reporting in Mandarin by Lin Di. RFA Mandarin service
director:

Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by
Luisetta
Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.



China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected] 
Website: www.chinaaid.org

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