China: Whistleblower sentenced to prison after reporting industrial pollution by three companies, despite authorities confirming his accusations were true

Author: Qian Jinghua, Sixth Tone (China), Published on: 16 July 2018

"Environmental Whistleblower Gets Prison Sentence", 12 Jul 2018

…Zhang Wenqi was sentenced by the court of Wuzhi County on Monday on charges of fabricating facts and causing financial losses to three companies in the province, The Beijing News reported…The public prosecutor brought forward the criminal case after the two paper companies and a technology company complained that Zhang’s allegations had damaged their business reputations and caused substantial losses.

…In July 2014, Zhang found that Guangyuan Paper Co. Ltd. and Zhihui Science and Technology Co. Ltd. — two companies connected to Jianghe — were producing CVL without permission from the local industry and commerce authority. The exhaust fumes and solid waste from CVL production contain pollutants like ammonia and heavy metals that require treatment, but Zhang tipped off environmental authorities that he witnessed the companies simply burying the waste near the industrial park where all three companies are located.

…In May 2015, a national-level inspection team from the then-Ministry of Environmental Protection confirmed that the companies had dumped industrial waste…In June 2016, the Henan provincial environmental monitoring authority confirmed that the companies were manufacturing CVL and ordered that the production line be disassembled…

Yet in March 2017, county police detained Zhang after Jianghe reported that his accusation had led to financial losses for the company…

Jianghe did not reply to Sixth Tone’s inquiry by the time of publication, and when a Sixth Tone reporter contacted Zhihui, an employee denied the company’s connection to Jianghe before hanging up. Calls to Guangyuan went unanswered…

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