Following up on the post about the new judicial interpretation on internet speech crimes and whether it was an attempt by the judiciary to put the internet crackdown under judicial rather than MPS control, the case involving a 16 year old Gansu boy seems to be resolved.
I discussed that this might be the intent of the SPC and SPP, but I thought it was ultimately misguided as it amounts to saying that ‘we had to criminalize the conduct in order to protect it”. Specifically, that police would still be encouraged to investigate by the interpretation, and that even investigation, with long periods of detention, could be a type of harassment and likely lead to self-censorship.
The case concerns a 16 year old Gansu boy who has now been released after being detained for a week on charges of ‘provocation and causing disturbances’ for alleging that an accidental death in his town was actually murder entangled with police corruption.
Involvement by many in the legal community and public opinion pressure almost certainly played a role in his release, which seems to have occurred before indictment or trial.
So, is this the courts and procuratorate reigning in pubic security overreaching? It may well be and we will hopefully have more information about who authorized what action , in the near future. The SCMP also reports that the head of the local public security bureau has been suspended.
At the same time, there are no proclamations that this was protected speech which should not be punished, and a Global Times editorial suggests quite the opposite, reminding everyone that this changes nothing about the interpretation.
The boy’s weibo press conference was shut down before it began. And the impact of a week’s detention on a 16 year old, probably can’t be overstated.