The trial of a journalist accused of fabricating stories has raised concerns over local governments stretching the definition of criminal “disorderly conduct” to silence dissent.
Li Xiaogen, also known as Li Gen, has been accused of offenses including disorderly conduct and “provoking trouble” for articles he wrote for the Hunan Contemporary Business Daily in 2018.
Li published stories about the seizure of a village-owned coal mine based on documents provided by villagers in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
Those documents were forged, but Li claims he didn’t know this when he published his stories.
Prosecutors argue he caused damage to the government’s reputation and online “chaos,” during a trial that took place between the end of August and early September this year at a court in Shenmu, a county-level city under the administration of Yulin, Shaanxi.
A judgment has yet to be reached, but Li and other defendants involved in this case argue that they were themselves victims of fraud, while a prominent academic says Li’s actions aren’t severe enough to constitute a criminal offense.
Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.
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