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China sentences fake reporter to life in prison for bribery

BEIJING: A Chinese court sentenced a man to life in prison Wednesday for taking nearly $500,000 in bribes while posing as a reporter -- and sometimes a top editor -- for the Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily.

Liu Yonghong had promised low-level officials outside Beijing that he could help them get promotions or work transfers by delivering their bribes to top leaders in the capital, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It is not unusual in China for reporters to make deals to write positive stories, or to suppress negative news, in return for bribes or promises to buy advertising.

It was not immediately clear whether Liu had ever worked for the newspaper.

A man working in the administrative office of the People's Daily, who like many Chinese officials would only gave his surname, Hu, said Liu used to live in the People's Daily housing compound but refused to say why, or what links he had to the newspaper.

"This man was not a reporter of People's Daily. He claimed he was a reporter for the newspaper to extort money," Hu said. "We welcome the fair and just court trial against him. We also need to learn a lesson from the incident."

He declined to elaborate, and told reporters to read Xinhua's article on the conviction for further details.

A 2005 article in the Beijing Entertainment Post said Liu started posing as an editor after being dismissed from the newspaper.

According to the ruling by the Second Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, Liu extorted 3.79 million yuan ($490,000) from three victims between 1998 and 2003, Xinhua said.

One victim was identified by his surname, Zhu. No other details, such as his post or where he was from, were given.

"Liu has seriously tarnished the image of the organizations concerned," the ruling said, according to Xinhua.

Xinhua said Liu had two accomplices, but that no information was available about their cases.

The court's main telephone number rang unanswered Wednesday.

Date posted: May 9, 2007 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 13