The father of a Chinese teenager freed after being held for a week under a new nationwide crackdown on online rumors has hit out at his son's detention, saying the boy has been expelled from school and is "hard hit" by his ordeal.
"My mood is very low at the moment because my son has been so hard hit by this," said Yang Niuhu, father of a 16-year-old blogger Yang Hui, who was released by police in China's western province of Gansu on Monday after a seven-day detention over a tweet accusing local authorities of improper conduct.
"He is shaking like a leaf and hardly dares to say anything."
"The school has taken him off their roll, so he won't be going back there," he said. "There were no arrangements made to support him after this happened whatsoever."
Last week Yang Hui, also known by his online nickname "Huige," became the first person held under new rules against “rumor-mongering” after his tweet was retweeted more than 500 times.
His detention sparked a public outcry and an online "Save the Child" campaign by Chinese netizens calling for his release.
New rules on retweets and views
Amid a crackdown on China's usually outspoken social media sites, the Supreme People’s Court and state prosecution service issued guidelines on Sept. 9 warning that "rumor-mongering" is a crime punishable under law.
Anyone posting information online deemed by the authorities to be "spreading rumors" or "defaming" another person could be punished for a serious offense if the post is subsequently viewed at least 5,000 times or re-posted at least 500 times.
However, Yang Niuhu said he stood by his son's actions.
The middle school student was detained after posting a critical tweet accusing police in his hometown in Gansu's Zhangjiachuan Hui Autonomous County of improper conduct after a man jumped from the roof of a karaoke bar in Zhangjiachuan two days earlier, including beating up the man's relatives.
In a later tweet, he pointed to alleged links between local judicial officials and the bar's owners. The bar later admitted it had ties to the spouse of a judicial official, though not the one named in Yang's tweets, one of which was retweeted more than 500 times.
'Doesn't think he committed any crime'
Beijing-based lawyer Wang Shihua confirmed the teen had suffered psychologically from the detention.
"I met with him and tried to give him some counseling," Wang said. "Of course he's feeling the pressure, but he's not too bad."
"He doesn't think he committed any crime."
China's official news agency Xinhua said Yang had served a week-long detention for "administrative infractions" although he was initially detained on a charge of "provoking trouble."
"In light of Yang being a teenager, his active compliance with the investigation, his sincere regret for the crime, and the circumstances of being a minor, local police withdrew the criminal case and handed down a lenient punishment," the agency said on Monday.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.