BEIJING — A former journalist and his wife have been detained by security officers in China after he wrote online last week about five boys in Guizhou province who had died in a trash bin after taking shelter there from the cold, according to a lawyer and a friend of the ex-journalist.
The lawyer, Li Fangping, based in Beijing, said in a telephone interview that the ex-journalist, Li Yuanlong, who is not related to the lawyer, was picked up by security officers Wednesday. The men spoke by telephone while Li was being driven along a highway to a “resort" in Guizhou in south-central China, the lawyer said Thursday. A friend of Li’s who edits an online publication said Li’s wife had been taken too.
Li, 52, had been a reporter for Bijie Daily, the main newspaper in the city of Bijie, for eight years, but was imprisoned in 2005 for two years because he had written too many “negative" stories about Bijie, the lawyer said. He has been unemployed since his release from prison, the lawyer added.
Late last week, Li posted photographs and wrote about the deaths in Bijie of the five boys, who were all related and ranged in age from 9 to 13. The bodies were discovered on Nov. 16 in a rolling trash bin. The local police said the boys appeared to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning after they started a fire with charcoal inside the bin to warm themselves.
Li’s posts ignited outrage on the Internet in China. Online users asked scathing questions about how the local government, teachers, family members and society in general could have allowed the boys to end up in such a predicament.