A Chinese journalist detained last week on the suspicion of harming business reputations has confessed on television that he published unverified stories defaming a company in exchange of money.
State-run China Central Television on Saturday aired a news story with footage in which reporter Chen Yongzhou said he was given bribes for running prepared stories alleging financial misdeeds by the construction giant Zoomlion - a partly state-owned firm.
Chen, an employee of the Guangzhou-based New Express newspaper, said in the report that he was driven by greed and a desire for fame.
“I'm willing to admit my guilt and to repent," he said as he sat handcuffed before police in a morning news segment on state broadcaster CCTV.
His detention has caused an uproar among media professionals, who worry police are overstepping their legal jurisdiction in criminalising civil disputes.
Legal scholars also voiced concerns about state media airing the confession of a suspect before a court hears the case.
Rights activists have said that public confessions in China are often forced and violate the accused's right to due process.
New Express, the state-backed tabloid that employed Chen, had published two front-page pleas for police to release him last week, an unusually bold move that drew widespread attention and sympathy from the public.
The paper's website did not mention Chen's confession on Saturday morning.