China arrests alleged associates of runaway tycoon
By Agence France-Presse
Chinese police on Monday announced the arrest of twin brothers alleged to have forged government documents on behalf of a billionaire fugitive who has made explosive corruption accusations against his country’s politicians.
Guo Wengui, a real estate tycoon who fled to the United States, spent last year waging a one-man guerrilla war against China’s elite by posting a series of graft allegations on social media.
In December Guo told AFP he was working for regime change in Beijing. China has declared him a fugitive and had Interpol issue a “red notice” or a non-binding arrest warrant for him, reportedly related to bribery charges.
Guo has applied for political asylum in the US.
Police in the southwestern city of Chongqing held a press conference on Monday to make public the latest allegations against him. In an unusual move in criminal matters, China’s State Council press office invited foreign reporters to attend ahead of time.
The press conference by Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau also aired video confessions from the two brothers, Chen Zhiyu and Chen Zhiheng, who were allegedly paid by Guo to forge the “secret government documents”.
Critics say China’s police often use torture to force confessions from suspects.
Earlier this month human rights group Safeguard Defenders released a report detailing how police have forced many high-profile defendants to make confessions with promises the videos would not be broadcast — only to later broadcast them via state TV.
The twins’ confession videos were subsequently aired later Monday by China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
Officials in Chongqing told the press conference the forged documents were “distributed abroad, misleading the public, and creating an evil impact”, according to the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.
Guo did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment on the latest claims made against him by Beijing. In the past he has disputed the allegations and said they are payback for exposing corruption.
The documents which China claims Guo helped forge and publicise include a purported secret Communist Party Central Committee document, showing China was covertly offering missiles and aid to North Korea even as it publicly approved UN sanctions against its longtime ally over its nuclear programme.
The document was published by The Washington Free Beacon, the People’s Daily said. At the time, Beijing denounced the document as “fake news”.
Chinese authorities said they would also share more information on Guo, and his donations to US politicians and former government officials, with US law enforcement authorities.
“We believe US authorities won’t allow this type of criminal activity to exist,” police were quoted by the People’s Daily as saying.