China's media regulator on Thursday urged authorities to explain the "controversial" arrest of a journalist who wrote a series of articles critical of a leading manufacturing company.
"We hope the authorities offer a convincing and legally credible explanation of the matter," the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television said in a statement.
The journalist, Chen Yongzhou, was arrested last Saturday in Guangzhou, capital of the southeastern Chinese province of Guangdong, for a series of articles published in the New Express daily between September 2012 and June 2013 accusing the partly state-owned company Zoomlion of exaggerating its profits and manipulating markets.
Zoomlion, based in Changsha, capital of the neighboring province of Hunan, is China's second-largest construction-equipment manufacturer.
GAPPRFT's intervention in this matter was rare, as was New Express' decision to publish front-page pleas for Chen's release on both Wednesday and Thursday.
The journalist was arrested, according to authorities, on "suspicion of damaging the commercial reputation" of the firm. The public security bureau of Changsha, for its part, said Wednesday that the newspaper and Chen "published 18 negative reports on Zoomlion without any verification process."
The daily denies the accusations and says Chen's articles were "objective."
Another New Express journalist, Liu Hu, was arrested two months ago for defamation after accusing Ma Zhengqi, deputy director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, of dereliction of duty and calling on authorities to investigate him. EFE