China paper fires reporter over story
A newspaper in China’s southeastern province of Jiangxi fired a senior reporter whose story on illicit organ harvesting angered authorities in Beijing, according to a human rights group on Aug. 2. The Hong Kong-based Information Center on Human Rights and Democracy reported that Yao Xiaohong, news director at the Jiangxi Metropolitan Consumer News, lost his job for writing about an area court’s alleged scheme to sell the kidneys of a prisoner who was executed. One of the paper’s editors told Reuters that Yao stopped writing for the newspaper in early July because one of his stories had “violated editorial rules.” The editor refused to explain the situation further, saying the reasons for Yao’s departure were “sensitive,” according to Reuters. Yao’s story, published in April, is just one of a succession of stories on the organ-harvesting scandal to make it out of China in recent years. His story also appeared on the Web site of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece. According to the rights group, Yao now works at a newspaper in Guangzhou.
Mexico prodded to solve journalist’s death
After two suspects were released days earlier by a Jalisco state judge, U.S. officials asked Mexican authorities in August to resolve the case of San Antonio Express-News journalist Philip True – whose body was discovered in the remote mountains of western Mexico in 1998. “We believe the preponderance of evidence strongly indicates that Philip True was a victim of foul play,” Jeffrey Davidow, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said in a statement released from Mexico City and published in the San Antonio Express-News. The State Department is investigating the release of Juan Chivarra and Miguel Hernández, who made signed confessions to killing True, the paper’s Mexico bureau chief, in December 1998. Prosecutors say the suspects, both Huichol Indians, beat True, strangled him with his own handkerchief, then buried his corpse in a shallow grave. The suspects said in their confessions that they killed True because he took photographs on Huichol land without permission. The defendants, released Aug. 3 by Judge José Luis Reyes Contreras, now claim that they only confessed to the 1998 murder after being beaten. Mexican newspapers said the suspects’ release followed a medical reinterpretation of the autopsies conducted on True. The new analysis ruled out strangulation as the cause of death, instead suggesting True died from a blow to the head and that the blow may have been accidental. Mexican prosecutors have filed an appeal in the case. “When I found out, it was like he died again,” True’s widow, Martha, told The Washington Post. “This case is not over,” said Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, where True worked. The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) has asked U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to intervene in True’s case. “The attention of the United States to this case is extremely important,” ASNE President Tim McGuire told Editor & Publisher.