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China detains Bloomberg News employee over ‘endangering national security’ suspicions

Chinese police standing in Beijing. (Beijing Patrol/Flickr)
December 14, 2020

Haze Fan, a Chinese national working for Bloomberg’s Beijing bureau, has been detained on suspicion of endangering Chinese national security, the news publication reported Friday.

Bloomberg reported Fan was last in contact with her editor at around 11:30 a.m. local time last Monday and was seen shortly after being escorted from her apartment building by plainclothes security officials. Bloomberg said it sought information about Fan’s whereabouts with the Chinese government for four days, and it received confirmation on Thursday that she was being held on suspicion of participating in activities endangering national security.

“Chinese citizen Ms. Fan has been detained by the Beijing National Security Bureau according to relevant Chinese law on suspicion of engaging in criminal activities that jeopardize national security. The case is currently under investigation. Ms. Fan’s legitimate rights have been fully ensured and her family has been notified,” Chinese authorities told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said it notified Fan’s family of her disappearance within 24 hours and are actively seeking more information about her detention.

“We are very concerned for her, and have been actively speaking to Chinese authorities to better understand the situation,” a Bloomberg spokesperson said. “We are continuing to do everything we can to support her while we seek more information.”

Fan began working for Bloomberg in 2017 as a news assistant. She previously worked with CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera, and Thomson Reuters.

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

In a Saturday statement, the European Union wrote, “We expect the Chinese authorities to grant [Fan] medical assistance if needed, prompt access to a lawyer of her choice, and contacts with her family. Other Chinese journalists or citizens have disappeared this year, or been detained or harassed, after engaging in reporting. These include among others Zhang Zhan, Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin, who reported on the COVID-19 outbreak. All those arrested and detained in connection with their reporting activity should be immediately released.”

Responding to the EU statement, a spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to the EU wrote, “The case is currently being investigated according to law, and Fan’s rights and interests are fully protected. What I want to emphasize is that the lawful handling of the relevant issues by the Chinese authorities is entirely China’s internal affair, in which no other country or organization has any right to interfere.”