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Han Han's family threatened amid character attacks

By Li Mao (Global Times)

09:13, April 17, 2012

Celebrity writer Han Han cautioned both his "enemies" and supporters against escalating online fighting to real life after a Web user threatened to kill him and his family Sunday night.

The 30-year-old Shanghai writer and opinion leader, deeply embroiled in ghostwriting allegations since January, responded to the online threat, saying that he worries the fight between he and Fang Zhouzi, an anti-fraud campaigner, is expanding offline.

The response came after an online user, identified as Huang Lin, threatened to kill Han and his family if authorities fail to investigate the three-month online fight or Han refuses to apologize to the public within half a year.

"I wish people would not take the online hatred to real life. And I hope my readers and supporters can calm down without attacking Fang and his followers," Han wrote on his blog Monday.

The escalation of the online argument could cause unexpected harm to him as well as others in real life, he warned.

Three hours later, Huang apologized to Han and his family for his radical speech on his own blog and said he would criticize Han in a modest way in the future.

"It was to catch the attention of the authorities to look into the fight between the two. I am willing to apologize to Han and his family and accept legal consequences if an investigation shows that he was credible," he wrote Monday.

Fang, leader of the campaign against Han's credibility, Monday mocked Huang's radical speech and Han's response as an event staged by Han himself.

Fang said in his microblog that he had also been threatened in the same way by Han's supporters, but nobody showed concern, saying Han was trying to create a sensation.

Han's credibility crisis started in January, when IT expert Mai Tian questioned whether he actually wrote his own blog articles.

Mai later apologized and withdrew his accusation but Fang, an opponent of academic fraud, furthered the questioning and claimed Han's father, 55-year-old Han Renjun, was the ghostwriter.

Han filed lawsuits against Fang's defamation but withdrew them later, a Shanghai district court announced in February.

"It is one thing to hold different opinions and express them online. But it is quite another thing to verbally threaten others. I think it was inappropriate to move from an online argument to a threat of real life attack," Zhang Zhi'an, a professor at the School of Communication and Design of Sun Yat-Sen University, told the Global Times Monday.

Yu Jiakai, a criminal lawyer with the Grandall Law Firm, said that Huang was not likely to be held responsible for publicizing threats online according to Chinese criminal law.

Criminal charges would likely only be filed if "police find he takes action to threaten Han's personal safety, such as purchasing a knife or ambushing Han, for example," he told the Global Times Monday.

Calls to Han and Fang went unanswered by the press time Monday.

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