Tokyo, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- Foreign correspondents clubs around Asia expressed solidarity and concern on Tuesday over the arrest of Bloomberg News journalist Haze Fan, and urged an explanation for her detention in the country.
Chinese citizen Haze was arrested by agents of the Beijing Municipal National Security Bureau in a case that is “under investigation,” as Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin confirmed Monday.
Foreign correspondents clubs from Hong Kong, Japan, Jakarta, the Philippines, South Asia, Taiwan and Thailand said in a joint statement Tuesday that they are “very concerned” by the journalist’s arrest and are joining the efforts of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China “in its efforts to seek an explanation on why the Chinese authorities detained Fan.”
“The clubs also join together in expressing alarm at reports of deteriorating conditions for journalists working for international media in China,” the joint statement said.
According to Bloomberg, Fan was seen being escorted from her apartment by plain clothes security officials on Dec. 7.
It wasn’t until last Thursday that the organization received confirmation from the authorities about her arrest on “suspicion of engaging in activities that jeopardize national security,” according to the joint statement.
“Chinese nationals perform invaluable roles in support of foreign media in China. Without their work, it would be difficult for foreign media to operate in China, and their safety is a matter of the highest concern,” it added.
Fan began working for Bloomberg in 2017 and has also worked for CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera and Thomson Reuters.
On Saturday the European Union said it expects “the Chinese authorities to grant her medical assistance if needed, prompt access to a lawyer of her choice, and contacts with her family.”
“Other Chinese journalists or citizens have disappeared this year, or been detained or harassed, after engaging in reporting. These include among others Zhang Zhan, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin, who reported on the COVID-19 outbreak,” it said, adding that “all those arrested and detained in connection with their reporting activity should be immediately released.”
China’s embassy to the EU responded Sunday, saying Fan was being held under “compulsory measures” and her rights and interests are “fully protected.”
“What I want to emphasize is that the lawful handling of the relevant issues by the Chinese authorities is entirely China’s internal affair, in which no other country or organization has any right to interfere,” a spokesperson for the mission said.
In the first half of 2020 alone, China expelled 17 foreign journalists, while at least a dozen more have received penalties of various kinds, such as accreditation for one month instead of the standard one year. EFE-EPA