Singer’s Weibo terror post was not a crime: lawyers

By Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-29 0:48:01

Two lawyers representing a singer, who was detained by Beijing police after claiming on her Sina Weibo that she would bomb two local government departments, released a statement on Saturday that her words did not constitute a crime.

Wu Hongfei, a former journalist and currently a singer based in Beijing, posted on her verified Sina Weibo account on July 21 that she wanted to blow up  the neighborhood committee of Beijing talent exchange center and Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. She was detained by police the same day.

Beijing police confirmed on Friday that Wu is detained for falsifying a terrorist threat, a crime that may result in five years in prison, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

Li Jinxing, one of Wu's lawyers, told the Global Times on Sunday that Wu deleted the post after several hours and, although her post was angry, her words did not actually harm anyone.

"This is a very important case to clarify the difference between the freedom of speech on the Internet and a crime," Li said.

Wu posted to express her anger over Ji  Zhongxing, the wheelchair-bound man who detonated an explosive device at Beijing airport, according to Li.

Calls to Beijing police went unanswered on Sunday.

The criminal detention of Wu has ignited discussions on the Internet over whether Wu's Weibo post could or should be considered as a terrorist threat.

A Sina Weibo vote with more than 27,000 participants as of press time showed that nearly 82 percent of those polled said Wu should not receive a criminal sentence, even though her words were inappropriate.

The remaining 18 percent of those surveyed said that Wu should be held responsible as her post threatened public security.

Yuan Yulai, an expert in criminal law, said Wu, as a public figure, must apologize to the public.

"I will not argue if people believed her words or if they caused public terror. But now the case, rather than being a criminal one, has become one bad example that greatly affects freedom of speech online, as people dare not to talk about their emotions," Li said.

Li added that both he and Wu's other lawyer, Chen Jiangang, would meet the singer at the police station on Monday.

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