Haze Fan was released on bail in January pending trial: China

Beijing-based journalist with Bloomberg News is accused of breaking national security laws.

A policeman, wearing a mask to protect from severe pollution, secures the area near the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Haze Fan was apparently released on bail at her lawyer's request in January. Bloomberg says it has not been able to contact her [File Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

Haze Fan, a journalist with Bloomberg News, was released on bail in January pending trial by Chinese authorities, according to a statement by the Chinese embassy in Washington, but Bloomberg has not been able to contact her.

Fan, a Chinese citizen who previously worked for international media outlets including Al Jazeera, was last seen in December 2020 when witnesses saw her being escorted from her home by security officials.

She was formally arrested in July 2021 and accused of “endangering national security”.

The latest update on her whereabouts was contained in a statement by the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, in response to a World Press Freedom Day advertisement that was published in the Washington Post on May 2 and featured Fan.

The embassy said Fan’s case had nothing to do with press freedom or her position with an international media company. It said she had been released on bail at her lawyer’s request in January.

“The case is still under investigation according to law and Fan’s legitimate rights and interests have been fully protected,” the statement said.

Bloomberg News said it had been made aware of that statement over the weekend, and had not been able to contact Fan.

“We are encouraged that Haze is out on bail,” the news agency cited John Micklethwait, its editor-in-chief, as saying. “She is a much valued member of our Beijing bureau – and we will continue to do everything possible to help her and her family.”

Chinese nationals can only work as news assistants for foreign news bureaus in China and are not allowed to do independent reporting.

At least 127 journalists – from major international news outlets to bloggers – were detained in China, according to a report from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in December last year.

Those jailed also include Zhang Zhan, a Chinese lawyer who was sentenced to four years in prison in December 2020 for documenting the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, and Cheng Lei, an Australian Chinese anchor at Chinese state media outlet CGTN who is accused of supplying state secrets overseas and was put on trial in March.

Source: Al Jazeera