Liu Di, “Stainless Steel Mouse,” may be freed soon

[To read a complete interview with Liu Di, go here.]

]Liu Di, the 23-year-old student whose arrest as a cyber-dissident in China has showered the CCP with bad publicity, appears on the verge of release:

A 23-year-old “cyber dissident” detained last year for criticising the Chinese government may be released soon, family members say.

Four officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau visited Liu Di’s home last week to convey the news, her grandmother said on Monday.

Liu Di, a former psychology major at Beijing Normal University who wrote under the screen name “Stainless Steel Mouse”, became a high-profile symbol for democracy and free speech in China since her detention in November 2002.

Liu’s case comes during a crackdown on Internet content — from politics to pornography — and as the government struggles to gain control over a new and popular medium.

Liu’s heinous crimes were satirizing the CCP online and calling for the release of other “cyber-dissidents.” Her arrest was simply too indefensible, and it ignited a flurry of worldwide media protest.

Such pressure apparently works. There are many others serving hard time for similar crimes against the state, some hit with sentences up to 10 years. Each and every one should be let go, and the international media should not muffle its outcry now that the most famous one appears to be going free.

Update, from the BBC

It was unclear whether her [Liu Di’s] release would have any bearing on other people arrested at the same time for posting critical material on the internet.

China’s authorities have been keen to promote the commercial potential of the internet, but are anxious to control its political content.

The campaign group Reporters Without Borders estimates that China employs 30,000 people to watch what its people are doing online.

UPDATE: She is free!

The Discussion: 7 Comments

When I read about how Liu Di was arrested, I figured she would be released within weeks.
Yes, it’s great that Liu Di is most likely going to get out of prison. But the Chinese people are not any more free now to express their opinions publically than they were before.

This is merely a continuation of a pattern that’s existed for quite a while. Before arresting cyber-dissidents, China was frequently arresting Chinese-born US scholars who wrote negative things about them in Western academic journals. After a little diplomatic pressure, they’d usually get released relatively soon. (And then someone else gets arrested and the whole thing starts over again.)

I almost think they do it on purpose, so that way international organizations can feel satisfied with themselves (hey, we freed someone!), the CCP gets diplomatic brownie points with the West (well, they did just release somebody. I guess we should continue to say that we’re opposed to Taiwanese independence), while it scares the populace enough into keeping their mouths shut in public spaces. For the people the government considers real threats (i.e. people trying to organize large demonstrations or alternate political parties, not college students posting essays on the Internet), no amount of bitching from Amnesty International is going to help: they’re going to the labor re-education camps for a good 10-15 years.

November 17, 2003 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

That’s the danger with dancing in the streets over Liu Di’s inevitable release. And I agree that it was inevitable. Her release immediately takes the spotlight off of the other 35 or so Internet criminals. So this is a time to be more vocal than ever. China may be changing, but terror is still the mechanism the Party uses to ensure its survival, just like every other totalitarian state.

November 17, 2003 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

The Gweilo’s China Briefing: 2003-11-21

NOV 11/01 TOPICS: China’s crackdown on perceived internet dissent, its burgeoning AIDs crises, a first-hand report from the scene of recent anti-Japanese riots in Xi’an, the revival of a policy from the time of the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong’s ongo…

November 21, 2003 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

Technology – Internet Report

China Releases Cyber Dissident – Group

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has released a young cyber dissident known as the “stainless steel mouse” after detaining her for more than a year for criticizing the government, a Hong Kong rights group said Sunday.

Liu Di, 23, a former psychology major at Beijing Normal University who wrote under the computer name “Stainless Steel Mouse,” was freed from Beijing’s Qincheng prison Friday, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Two other “cyber dissidents,” Wu Yiran, 34, and Li Yibin, 29, also were freed from a jail for political detainees on Friday, it said in a statement.

The release came just over a week ahead of a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to the United States. China frequently times releases of dissidents to coincide with important trips abroad or visits by world leaders.

Liu was bailed out Friday afternoon, the center said, saying the move amounted to freeing her because political detainees are rarely, if ever, released on bail.

Family members said earlier this month they expected the release after four officials from the Beijing Public Security Bureau visited her home to convey the news.

Liu became a high-profile symbol for democracy and free speech in China after her detention in November 2002, spawning online petitions with thousands of signatories calling for her freedom.

She wrote political satire about the ruling Communist Party and posted messages in Internet chatrooms calling for the release of online dissidents. Never formally charged, she was held at Qincheng Prison for political detainees.

“Liu Di’s main wish is to go back to Beijing Normal and resume her studies,” the center said.

The center said in early November that prosecutors had rejected police recommendations to indict Liu on broad charges of subversion due to lack of evidence.

Police also detained at least two people for organizing online petitions for Liu’s release. Du Daobin, a civil servant, was detained in October, while Luo Changfu, a 39-year-old laid-off worker, was sentenced to three years in prison.

China has been cracking down on Internet content — from politics to pornography — as the government struggles to gain control over the new and popular medium.

It has created a special Internet police force, blocked some foreign news sites and shut down domestic sites posting politically incorrect literature.

November 30, 2003 @ 11:15 pm | Comment

Chinese bloggers, cyber dissidents or internet essayists?

Much rejoicing at the release of Stainless Steel Mouse, Liu Di, 23, a psychology student at Beijing Normal University, who was detained for a year for what she wrote and posted on the internet. Bloggers have been quick to claim…

December 12, 2003 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

Liu Di’s release from prison last fall was attributed largely to both international pressure but also the impact of bloggers. Has anyone recently communiated with her and do you think she is back at an Internet cafe blogging?

July 14, 2004 @ 5:14 am | Comment

I don’t know anyone who personally communicated with her, but she has been active, expecially with the petition to free Du Daobin.

July 14, 2004 @ 7:30 am | Comment

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