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Beijing rocker threatens to blow up govt buildings, jailed

world Updated: Jul 30, 2013 02:15 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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For one of China's most well-known woman rockers, Wu Hongfei, lead singer of rock band Happy Avenue, the road ahead could prove to be rocky indeed.

Wu, famous as outspoken singer and a candid critic of the government, was arrested last week after she threatened to blow up government buildings on her Twitter-like local micro blogging site Sina Weibo.

She picked specific targets: a residential committee in Beijing and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, an agency responsible for urban housing management.

Wu did not give any reason for her outburst, which came a day after a wheel-chair bound man blew up homemade explosives inside Beijing Capital International Airport.

Coming as it was a day after the airport incident with security alert in Beijing at its peak, the blog post wasn't music at all to the ears of the police.

Wu – an author and magazine journalist - was arrested for "fabricating fake terrorism information", a crime for which she could be dispatched to a prison for five years.

On the same day, state-run China Daily reported that police in Beijing also detained two other men, both for allegedly threatening to set off bombs in public places in Beijing.

"Huang Ming, vice-minister of public security, pledged to 'severely punish' those who threaten to start fires, set off bombs or make hoax terrorist threats," the report said.

It added that Central China Television, the state broadcaster, found in an opinion poll of 24,600 Sina Weibo users that more than 81% believe Wu's remarks do not constitute a crime, but they were inappropriate.

Li Jinxing, one of Wu's lawyers, told People's Daily that he will make a not-guilty plea on behalf of his client.

"I think this case is of great significance, and it will become a landmark lawsuit in drawing a line between the freedom of speech online and committing a crime," he said.

Jia Yan, a prosecutor in Tianjin, said it is inappropriate to post threatening statements after such a series of extreme acts and the singer should be educated or even punished.

"But criminal detention might be too serious. Administrative detention will be enough," he said.