A global media monitoring organization has urged the international community to respond following revelations about the demise of a dissident journalist, apparently at the hands of law enforcement in China.
Sun Lin, a freelance journalist and activist, passed away in a hospital on Friday, shortly after a police raid on his residence in the eastern city of Nanjing.
Sun Liyong, a friend of the journalist and founder of the Australia-based Support Network for the Persecuted in China, revealed that nurses at the hospital disclosed that Sun Lin’s clothes were torn upon admission.
“He was taken to the hospital at 2:44 p.m. He likely was already deceased by then. Three hours later, at 5:45 p.m., he was officially declared dead”Sun Liyong
Sun Liyong, relying on information from the journalist’s neighbors, detailed the police raid on social media. Witnesses reported security officers arriving around 1 p.m. on Friday, followed by sounds of confrontation.
In the days leading up to the raid, Sun Lin had been sharing videos of anti-China protests during the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum in San Francisco.
The journalist’s family asserted that he was in good health before the raid and had spoken to relatives earlier that day, according to Sun Liyong. On a social media platform, Sun Liyong claimed that police visited the journalist’s ex-wife’s residence and requested that their daughter refrain from causing a disturbance over the death.
Radio Free Asia, an affiliate of VOA, reported that police had visited friends and colleagues of Sun Lin since his death.
As of Monday, the family had not been permitted to view Sun Lin’s body, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Concerned friends and activists issued a letter demanding that the Nanjing government launch an investigation and hold those accountable for the incident.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington had not responded to a request for comment by late Tuesday.
RSF, based in Paris, expressed horror over Sun Lin’s death, attributing it to the Chinese regime’s paranoia regarding independent media and journalists.
RSF’s Asia-Pacific bureau director, Cedric Alviani, stated, “This gruesome murder is a direct consequence of the Chinese regime’s paranoia, which leads its leaders to see an enemy of the state in every independent media or journalist.”
The watchdog called on the international community to pressure Beijing to “end its relentless attacks” on press freedom.
Sun Lin, also known as Jie Mu, had a lengthy career in journalism and activism in China, challenging censorship.
A former editor of Nanjing-based newspaper Business Times Today, he was once dismissed for penning articles critical of Beijing. Sun Lin later contributed to the U.S.-based website Boxun.
His coverage included instances of official harassment and political corruption, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In 2018, Chinese authorities sentenced Sun Lin to four years in prison for “incitement,” and after his release in 2022, he had been under surveillance and denied visits from friends.
Due to this, Sun Lin had installed security cameras in and around his home, according to his friend Sun Liyong, who added, “There are no dead corners in Sun Lin’s house; there are cameras all over his house. But the Public Security Bureau is in possession of all the footage now.”
China ranks as a major incarcerator of journalists, trailing only North Korea in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, which assesses media freedom environments globally.