Chinese journalist 'confesses' to defamation on state TV

Imprisoned Chen Yongzhou admits filing unverified articles defaming a state-owned business and accepting bribes amid fears he was coerced

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The Independent Online

A Chinese journalist has confessed to wrongdoing on state television, after making an admission that he was fed untrue information about a business and filed unverified stories defaming the company in exchange for financial bribes. 

Chen Yongzhou, a financial reporter for the New Express newspaper said he had accepted bribes and agreed to stories being published under his name which alleged financial mis-conduct by China's second-largest heavy equipment maker, Zoomlion.

The Guangdong-based New Express made rare front page appeals over two days calling for his release.

He is seen on state TV saying: “I willingly admit the crime, and I repent my crime. As for those involved in the case - Zoomlion, the credibility of the entire news media, my family and the wounds they are suffering - I am willing to offer my sincere apologies.” He also apologised to Zoomlion shareholders.

Chen said he accepted the bribes because he wanted "money and fame". He said he was given 500,000 yuan (£51,000) to report Zoomlion to regulatory agencies in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Several high-profile suspects have made televised confessions in China recently, including Liang Hong, senior manager of GlaxoSmithKline who admitted to misusing funds. Many fear the confessions have been coerced out of them, despite an amendment made to criminal law this year that prevents authorities from forcing people to confess to crimes.

The state broadcaster accused Chen of of running more than ten news articles between September 2012 and August 2013 containing fabricated allegations of losses of state assets, abnormal sales practices and false financial reporting by Zoomlion, which caused widespread criticism of the company and resulted in its stock price falling after one particularly damaging report.

The Hunan provincial government owns one-sixth of Zoomlion and is its largest shareholder. Zoomlion denies allegations made about it and filed the police report against Chen in September.

Additional reporting by Reuters