After being arrested for spreading “rumors” online following new China Internet censorship rules, 16-year-old student Yang Hui has just been released. He sent a short message on Weibo on Sept. 23:
“Thanks to all you netizens, friends, and uncles and aunties. I have been released from custody and I’m grateful for your help. I’m very well now.”
In an effort to tighten control of Chinese using the Internet, and free speech, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate unveiled a new Internet regulation on Sept. 9. Anyone who posts a rumor online that is viewed or re-tweeted over 500 times can be sent to prison for up to three years.
Yang Hui was arrested for posting a message online critical of local police in his city in the northwestern province of Gansu. It was re-tweeted over 500 times by others over the Internet, according to an Epoch Times report.
“Police didn’t do anything after a murder case on Sept. 12 in Zhangjiachuan,” Yang’s note said on Sept. 14. “They beat the family of the dead.”
The Epoch Times report said that police then took Yang into criminal detention on suspicion of what they called “picking quarrels and provoking disputes.”
He was apparently released because the incident attracted a lot of attention, with people calling for him to be set free. Netizens were furious at the news of Yang’s arrest.
The Epoch Times published a sampling of netizens online commentary:
“How could that be making rumors!!! Can’t common people have their own opinions on criminal cases?”
“1.3 billion Chinese people have different opinions. Are you going to arrest them all?”
Lawyer Tang Hongxin offered pro bono legal representation.
See Chinese language version at Secret China.