Beijing police detained a man on charges of spreading false information and fabricating stories on the overseas Chinese website Boxun.com, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Xiang Nanfu, 62, was also charged with accepting payment from foreign sources and portraying a negative image of China, it said. Xiang’s actions “severely” damaged China’s image and provoked public dissatisfaction with the government, it said.
New York-based Boxun, which is blocked in mainland China, regularly reports sensitive stories on Chinese politics and corruption, generally citing unidentified sources. Xiang mainly worked as a volunteer with most of his reports containing pictures or videos about civil rights, Watson Meng, a representative from Boxun, said in an e-mail.
“Boxun strongly protests the Chinese authorities seizure of Xiang Nanfu,” Boxun said in a statement on its website today. “We noted that recently many Chinese netizens and dissidents have been detained by authorities, this is a clear sign of the rapid deterioration of human rights in China.”
One article that China alleges Xiang fabricated said the Chinese government has been harvesting organs from living human beings and burying people alive, leading to mass protests outside the United Nations, Xinhua said. Boxun said in its statement that it has never reported that article. It has adhered to the principle of accurate reporting and pursuit of the truth, Boxun said.
The detention comes amid a tightening of controls on the Internet before the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The number of users of China’s microblogs fell for the first time last year after a legal interpretation made it a jailable offense to spread false rumors online.
In April, blogger Qin Zhihui was sentenced to three years in jail on charges of defamation, after he was found guilty of spreading rumors about several celebrities as well as a deadly high-speed train crash in 2011.
Sina Corp., one of the country’s main Internet companies, said last month that it had received three notices from Beijing authorities regarding the distribution of unhealthy and indecent literary content.