Peter Guo (郭宝峰), a self-described “troublemaker in Amoy (Xiamen)” experienced what everyone who Twitters or blogs in China is not-so-secretly afraid of – one of his blog posts got him in trouble with the police, who threw him in jail.
He was one of as many as seven bloggers who were detained after writing about a 25-year-old woman, Yan Xiaoling, who had allegedly been gang-raped and murdered by someone connected to local authorities in Fujian. Guo’s crime: reposting something that had already been put on a BBS in Fujian Province, titled “Yan Xiaoling (嚴曉玲) much more miserable than Deng Yujiao (鄧玉嬌).” Deng Yujiao is a waitress turned national heroine who became famous for stabbing an official who may have sexually assaulted her. He then posted a video he had found, completely unedited, in which Yan Xiaoling’s mother accused local authorities of trying to cover up the case.
Five police came to arrest him the day after, on July 15. He has the story now out on his personal blog.
Five Mawei police (Mawei is a district of Fuzhou city) came to my company in Xiamen in the afternoon July 15, and confiscated my computer and took my cell phone away, so I was unable to contact with any of my acquaintances until they took me to the office building of Mawei Police Bureau and put my phone on the desk in front of me so that I could take this phone at any time when the police who interrogated me didn’t notice. No one knew that I was seized except my boss who is also a friend of mine.
And then, they asked me to lead them to my residential place from where they took away my laptop. A police saw my iPod Touch on bedside and asked what it was. I cheated them that it was just an ordinary MP4 player rather than a memory device, so he didn’t take it away. The police never thought this small device would become a powerful weapon.
After hours of interrogation, the police who had detained him became tired. He seized the opportunity to grab his phone and twitter quickly “Pls help me, I grasp the phone during police sleep” and “I have been arrested by Mawei police, SOS.” The police noticed and grabbed his phone from him, but the damage had been done. His tweets were translated into Chinese by a friend and retweeted across the web.
But even more importantly, his sister – an undergrad at Xiamen University – went to his residence and picked up his name card book and iPod touch, using it to send messages to all the names in his name card book. Using the info already in the touch, she notified his friends on social networking sites, sent messages to journalists and set up a donation account to hire a lawyer.
He was finally released last week – an event he figures would have never happened if it weren’t for the immense public pressure on the Mawei police. Considering none of the other bloggers who talked about Yan Xiaoling have made it out yet, he’s probably right.
We asked him for a comment about the matter soon after we realized he’d gotten out. Here’s his reply:
I am Baofeng Guo aka Peter Guo or Amoiist on Twitter.
After 16 days of detention, I was free. Of course, the release of me is totally the result of efforts made by all of netizens from home and abroad. Without them, the result would have been quite different. I was most grateful to people for their attention, donations, as well as the postcards although I didn’t receive any of them during the period in the cell, and special thanks must be given to my sister Guo Lihua who is a undergraduate student from Xiamen University.
I hope that the netizens can continue to pay more attention to this case, because other people involved into this case are suffering and I am not totally free of trouble. In addition, I want to let all people know when and why I was detained, and how did I successfully turned the disadvantages into favorable condition.
First of all, I don’t care about what people said about me, but I must make the following clarification: unlike some rumors said, I just merely uploaded a video to a video website abroad without any edits, translation and etc. rather than copy and paste the posts related to a woman called Yan Xiaoling to forums. If not, they had no reason to release me so quickly.
Second, I was seized at company and taken to Mawei police station in the night of July 15. They took my Blackberry cellphone for cutting off connection of me with others. After arrival at the police station, they put my phone on the desk in front of me. It was early morning and they had interrogated me for consecutive 4 hours, so two police were tired.
I was [unfortunate]. I was deprived of freedom for half month just because of uploading a video. In the other hand, I was lucky. I dare to say that my story can not be repeated. If there was no a smartphone, the police didn’t sleep and play games, or there was no Twitter, I think I [would be] unable to let people know that I was in danger. In short words, I have made a legend for Twitter…