EU Urges China to Give Bloomberg News Staffer Legal Access
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union called on Chinese authorities to allow a Bloomberg News staffer who was detained last week in Beijing to have access to a lawyer, medical care and contact with her family.
China has confirmed that Haze Fan, a Chinese citizen who has worked with Bloomberg News since 2017, was detained by the Beijing Municipal National Security Bureau on suspicion of endangering national security. She was seen escorted from her apartment building by plain clothes security officials on Dec. 7.
“We expect the Chinese authorities to grant her medical assistance if needed, prompt access to a lawyer of her choice, and contacts with her family,” the EU said on Saturday night in Brussels. Fan’s family was informed of her detainment within 24 hours.
China’s mission to the EU responded Sunday with a statement saying Fan was being held under “compulsory measures” and that her rights and interests were being 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,” a spokesperson for the mission said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated in a news briefing Monday that Fan’s case was under investigation, declining to elaborate.
Chinese authorities can hold suspects for extended periods without trial under national security laws that could cover corporate research, journalism and other investigative activities. For instance, two Canadian citizens held since 2018 under suspicion of national security offenses have gone long stretches without access to their families and lawyers, media including the Globe and Mail newspaper have reported.
A Bloomberg spokesperson said last week the company was “very concerned” for her and has been “actively speaking to Chinese authorities to better understand the situation.” In a statement to Bloomberg News last week, Chinese authorities said Fan’s case was under investigation. “Ms. Fan’s legitimate rights have been fully ensured and her family has been notified,” the authorities said.
Fan has previously worked with CNBC, CBS News, Al Jazeera and Thomson Reuters. Chinese nationals can only work as news assistants for foreign news bureaus in China and are not allowed to do independent reporting.
The EU also expressed concern about other Chinese journalists and citizens who have disappeared this year, including for reporting on the Covid-19 outbreak.
“All those arrested and detained in connection with their reporting activity should be immediately released,” according to the statement.
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