Accuser promises "evidence" of bribes involving "hero" journalist's newspaper

10:27, December 11, 2010      

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A Chinese journalist working for a French radio station has told Xinhua he has "cast-iron evidence" of corruption involving a leading economic newspaper that employed a "hero" investigative journalist who was hunted by the police earlier this year.

Huang Han, 32, using the pen name "Cao Guoxing," said Tuesday on t.sina.com.cn, a Chinese microblogging site affiliated to Sina.com, that the Economic Observer News was involved in corruption.

"I have promised Liu Jian (president of the Economic Observer News) to give the evidence to the newspaper committee," Huang told Xinhua. "I already have cast-iron evidence."

Huang, a journalist with Radio France Internationale, made the charge against Qiu Ziming, 28, a reporter in the Shanghai bureau of the Economic Observer News during a heated debate triggered by leading freelance writer Wang Xiaoshan, who suggested naming Qiu "Journalist of the Year" for his "fearless spirit" Monday.

Qiu Ziming became a media hero after refusing to succumb to an illegal arrest warrant issued by police in Zhejiang Province and later received an apology from the police.

He was named as the recipient of a 50,000-yuan (7,463 U.S. dollars) bribe, while deputy chief editor of the Economic Observer News Wang Shengzhong was alleged to have taken 800,000 yuan (119,403 U.S. dollars) in bribes. No details were ever given as to who gave the bribes or why.

The newspaper denied the allegation late Thursday on its website, saying, "No economic relations exist in Qui Ziming's case."

"All the senior employees have sworn that they received no benefits in the case. The Economic Observer News also promises that no leniency will be shown if illegal activity did occur," said the notice.

The notice also said the newspaper and its staff welcomed supervision by the public and would retain the right to take action against anyone who libeled the paper.

VIOLATING STANDARDS

Huang, who said he had worked in the newspaper for five months covering auto industry news before joining the French media, wrote on his microblog that he had talked with Liu Jian by phone.

He said he told Liu he had been organizing his evidence of "people who violated journalism standards" and would provide the evidence to the newspaper committee through a suitable channel.

He told Xinhua he could yet still give evidence of "crimes" to judicial authorities. "Please wait with patience," Huang wrote on his Sina microblog.

"I will provide the evidence Friday next week. If they fail to deal with the problem, I will give the evidence to police," Huang told Xinhua.

"Now, it's like a game of chess," he said.

Liu Jian denied discussing evidence with Huang.

"That's not true. That is not why Huang called me. We did not talk about providing evidence in the call. He called for something else," Liu said.

"I do not want to comment any more on the case now. Anything I say will not help resolve matters," he said.

Officials of Zhejiang Provincial Security Bureau refused to comment on the case. "It has nothing to do with the provincial bureau," said one official with the bureau who refused to be named.

Qiu first became the news when he went into hiding after police in Suichang County, Lishui City, Zhejiang Province, issued a warrant for his arrest on July 23.

The warrant triggered a furious debate on its legality and the rights of journalists. Eventually county police and government officials traveled to Beijing the day after they canceled the warrant on July 30 to apologize to Qiu.

They said Zhejiang Kan Specialty Material Co., Ltd. had accused him of defaming the company in a series of four "fabricated" reports beginning June 5.

Qiu's reports questioned the company's actions, including allegations of illegal occupation of state-owned assets and obtaining capital from another listed company by using forged land use rights documents.

A county police officer said the investigation had been closed after the apology.

BUSINESS DISPUTE

A report of the Southern Metropolis Daily on Aug. 4 said the story was actually a dispute between two companies, Zhejiang Kan Specialty Material Co., Ltd. and Zijing Real Estate Co., Ltd. in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang.

"According to materials we have, Qiu Ziming had a close relationship with our rival company during the coverage of our company," a senior official of Kan Specialty Material, who declined to be named, told Xinhua.

"We do not have direct evidence of a rival company bribe, so we hope police can join the investigation and dig out the truth," the official said, refusing to name the rival company or to give more details.

Long Can, journalist of a Chengdu-based newspaper, responded to Wang Xiaoshan's suggestion that Qiu had violated basic professional ethics, which triggered the allegations of corruption.

"It was not right to only interview one side in a conflict between two companies," Long told Xinhua. Long said he had been investigating the case since July and he had not written one word in his newspaper.

"I have not said anything about any corruption. I only focus on the ethics," Long said.

"It is so wrong to focus on the 800,000 yuan. It's not the point. The point is an investigation into a journalist who should have been investigated was stopped," he said.

"But I do have the evidence to prove that Qiu violated professional ethics," he said.

"Qiu is not professional, but made himself out as a hero. It is a shame for China's media if someone like him is made out to be a hero," he said.

"Many insiders told me that they have already got evidence and formed complete chains of the whole thing, but are facing great resistance from many sides," said Mao Anlin, journalist with the 21st Century Business Herald, on his Sina microblog.

"My own opinion is that the truth is still beneath the surface," Mao said, giving no more information. Mao broke the story that Qiu was hiding from the police on July 22 on his Sina microblog, after hearing it from an insider at the Economic Observer News.

"It's still too early to comment on the whole thing. Evidence must still be shown," said Wang Shuo, chief editor of the Century Weekly Magazine, a Chinese economic journal.

"My opinion is simple -- the evidence," Wang told Xinhua.

"One side should offer evidence, but chose not to, while the other side should ask for evidence, but chose not to, which is farcical," he said.

Wang wrote a blog when Qiu was on the run, saying Qiu's case was not only a rare victory for journalists' rights, but also for public opinion.

However, he warned in the blog that accurate and comprehensive reporting was the best protection for journalists.

"Every journalist is different as every person is different. If one damages his own reputation, it will not damage the reputation of other journalists who have ethics," he told Xinhua. Enditem

(Xinhua correspondent Fang Lie in Hangzhou also contributed to the story.)

Source:Xinhua
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