An editor of a Chinese rights watch website may have been arrested for posting a video involving President Xi Jinping, according to her lawyer.

After visiting Ding in a Beijing Detention Centre on Wednesday, Ren Quanniu told US-funded Radio Free Asia the citizen journalist may have been arrested for a clip posted online in September.

Ding is an editor at the website which reports on human rights violations suffered by grassroots citizens in China. It circulates information on detained human rights defenders in the country. the site’s founder, Liu Feiyue, has been detained since November 2016 for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Photo: Twitter/Ding Lingjie.

RFA previously reported that Ding had been taken from her relative’s home in Shandong, where she had been staying, on September 22. Since then, Ren, who was hired by her family to represent her, was able to confirm that she was being held at the Shijingshan District Detention Centre in Beijing.

Ren was permitted to meet his client for the first time on Wednesday. According to him, Ding is suspected of the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” but the authorities have not provided official documentation for her arrest either to her or to her family. The charge is often used by the authorities to silence critics.

‘Insulting leaders’

“One of the reasons for arresting her was because there was a video that concerned Xi Jinping – she did not watch it when petitioners gave it to her, and directly posted it online.”

It is unclear which clip was shared, but according to the Minsheng Guancha site and a friend of one of the activists speaking to RFA, a video of petitioner Wang Xiuying with a photo of Xi Jinping’s head pasted onto the body of a naked man may have been involved.

Ren went on to say that investigators did not show Ding the video during interrogation, and while Ding admits to posting it, she was not involved in its creation.

“The interrogators said she was suspected of insulting the country’s leaders,” he said.

Ren Quanniu and Cheng Yulan. Photo: RFA.

According to RFA, two activists suspected of taking part in the making of the video have also been arrested.

Ren added that the unit investigating Ding’s case was unknown, as she was not told the names or shown the ID of the investigators.

Cheng Yulan, a friend of Ding’s who accompanied Ren to the detention centre, told RFA that the site’s regular operations have been affected, but that its editorial staff would not give up easily.

“[Minsheng Guancha] lacks manpower. Our site definitely suffered a great loss. We will definitely continue our work.”

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.