A Chinese journalist has been arrested after he leveled corruption allegations against government officials on his microblog.
Liu Hu, an investigative journalist with the Guangzhou-based southern Chinese daily New Express, was picked up and detained for about three months without formal charges.
Liu was picked up after he put up updates on his Chinese microblog against Ma Zhengqi, the deputy head of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Reports in the state media, which confirmed the formal arrest of Liu, said it was not confirmed yet whether the arrest was in connection with the allegations as the official continues to hold his post.
State media reported Friday that on August 25, police in Beijing said Liu had been detained on suspicion of “fabricating and spreading rumors.”
Two days earlier, he was handcuffed and taken from his home in southwest China's Chongqing city, the report said, adding that on July 29, Liu had claimed on his microblog that Ma had failed in his duties when he was an official in Chongqing, resulting in a huge loss of state assets.
Ma was said to have approved the sale of a state-owned food and beverage firm to two officials for 1.7 million Yuan ($277,780) in 2004, even though the firm's net assets totaled 27.7 million Yuan.
Liu wrote: “Ma's misconduct has led to the loss of millions of Yuan in state assets and I urge the Party's discipline department and anti-corruption bodies to launch an investigation into Ma.”
The post has since been deleted.
“It's impossible that passing on this information constitutes the deliberate spread of false information or the intentional fabrication and transmission of information,” Zhou Ze, Liu’s lawyer, told state media.
Liu’s formal arrest comes within weeks of the Chinese government instituting measures to curb internet rumours.
But the new rules are also being seen as an attempt by the authorities to curb critical comment.
Online whistleblowers have exposed several cases of corruption in the past few months.