17 September 2009

Final Update on the Wu Baoquan Defamation Case

I've written before about Wu Baoquan, one of a series of questionable criminal defamation cases that were reported on earlier this year in the Chinese media. In this post, I expressed hope that the court would review whether the defamation charge was applied properly, given that a public prosecution for defamation (as opposed to charges brought by the aggrieved party) is only supposed to be pursued when there is a serious threat to social stability or national interest. I question whether that threshold was reached in this case, but according to this update from Southern Metropolis News today (translated by the EastSouthWestNorth blog here), the court seems merely to have accepted the claim of serious threat to social stability, rather than examine it more closely. A missed opportunity to take a stand on proper legal procedure, but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Wu decided not to pursue any more appeals, which makes sense given the number of times he's been found guilty so far and the fact that he's due for release (after credit for time served in detention) in just over a month.

UPDATE: I just realized that the ESWN post above left out the final paragraph of the original story, which to me is crucial:

"The handling of this case was seriously in violation of the law," said Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer with the Qijian Law Firm in Beijing. If Wu's [actions] truly constituted defamation, the aggrieved party should have filed suit in court himself. One cannot simply believe that, because the party affected by the "defamation" is an official, that [the speech] therefore disrupts social order and thus treat it as a case for public prosecution. This is a clear abuse of power.

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