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China: Citizen reporter Zuola becomes a potential threat to state security?!

Three days ago, on Nov 20th, Zuola sent out a twitter message reporting that he could not get through the Customs from Shenzhen to Hong Kong:

I can't get in Hongkong, not allow me leave from China, I don't konw why. And I call somebody for ask help. May be OK latter.fuck blacklist.

Within a few minutes, his message got re-tweetted around and he further explained his situation:

I have the HK travel card for chinese citizens and passport, the police check all of my ID card for 30 minits then say no.

Zuola is one of the most famous citizen reporter in China as he has been traveling around the country writing on issues like the Chong-qin Nail house and the Ant Farmer Protest.

Rebecca Mackinnon quickly blogs about his current status with a nice description of his controversial image:

Zola has stirred up controversy by turning himself into a commercial brand while at the same time committing citizen journalism. He has been called many things by many people: The “nailhouse blogger.” “Enfant terrible of the Chinese blogosphere.” A Chinese journalist-blogger friend of mine calls him “post-modern.”

This time Zuola planned to travel to Germany via Hong Kong for the Best of Blog Awards ceremony. He explains his trip in his twitter stream:


To those who stop me from crossing the border: I just plan to go to Germany to attend the Deutsche Welle's Best of Blog Awards ceremony as a jury. I will only be there for 7 days and I have already bought the ticket from 24 to 30 of November. Don't treat me like a political prisoner, it would affect my international image. Please say something good for me, or the media will make wild guess, thinking I must have committed some kind of crime.

On the next day, Zuola tried to get through the immigration in Shekou, he failed again:


I was barred from traveling to Hong Kong again in Shekou pier. They refund the ticket to me. The police suggested me to go back to Changsha and asked the police there. They also refused to give any written document to prove that I have been barred from traveling out. I decide to go back to Changsha to ask for an explanation.

On 22 of Nov, he arrived at Changsha and tried to figure out a way to get his name off from the black list:


Arrived at Changsha. Who can remove me from blacklist? What crime exactly has I committed? Should I be treated as a criminal? Will have the answer today.

He failed to find the answer again:


The state security staffs from both the provincial and national level said they could not find their leaders to clarify the situation. Tomorrow morning I will visit the state security team at the Changsha police station at 8am to ask for an explanation. They replied: if you go there, everyone will know you. I feel happy about this…

Finally today, he got an explanation:


The undercover police with the surname Zhuo received me. He admitted that it was the decision of Changsha state security branch for issuing the notice to bar me from leaving the country. He said that I am “a potential threat to state security”. However, he refused to issue written document to prove that I am banned from leaving the country.

Then he called for SOS:


[SOS] I need help from lawyer and media friends! How can I prove that my personal freedom have been violated legally or illegally? Should I ask the police to give proof that I am restricted by them? How can I get such proof?

In the end, he decided to cancel his trip and go home:


I can't travel to Germany and I need to tell Deutsche Welle about this. Tomorrow I will return to Meitanba town and get back to business. Won't hang around and won't let the Party and government worry about me….

A new twitter account freezoula was set up quickly to retweet comments on the issue, here is a selection:

[locked] keep the internet performance art up until an end comes to this~

[locked] ..impact. Zuola isn't doing Dem. Party work, or part of the democratic movement…that something as common and small as this..

peijinc That's how black boxes operate. You can sue, but who knows if any lawyers will help you.

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