Investigative Journalist Dies After Beating

Journalist Sun Hongjie died Tuesday of injuries related to his beating 10 days prior. According to international news reports, Hongjie was walking home after meeting a source on the evening of December 18th when the acquaintance turned on him and five other men appeared. All six men dragged him to a construction site where they severely beat him. A colleague found him the next morning and brought Hongjieto a hospital where he was pronounced brain dead and remained in a coma until his death yesterday.

Hongjie was a well-known investigative reporter at the Northern Xinjiang Morning Post and many believe his attack was related to his work which often exposed corruption. His mobile phone was destroyed but his wallet, money and other belongings remained intact.

Police arrested the men involved in the beating and official reports say that the attack was a result of a personal dispute. It is doubtful whether an independent investigation into the attacks is possible in Kuitun, part of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, since Hongjie wrote stories critical of the local government.

The Committee To Protect Journalists is calling for a full investigation into his beating and death by regional and Beijing authorities. Hongjie was 38 years old.

Another Uyghur journalist was recently handed a life sentence for statements he made to foreign journalists. A letter to Radio Free Asia confirms that Memetjan Abdulla, an editor for the Uyghur service of China National Radio, was sentenced in April in a closed trial.

China, together with Iran, holds 34 journalists in prison, topping the list of countries around the world. CPJ also reports that the number of detained journalists worldwide has reached its highest level since 1996. Among those writers in Chinese prisons is Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

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