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Journalist Dies in Hospital in China Hours After Police Raid

Freelance journalist Sun Lin died in a hospital Friday, just hours after a police raid on his home in the eastern city of Nanjing. 
Freelance journalist Sun Lin died in a hospital Friday, just hours after a police raid on his home in the eastern city of Nanjing. 

A media watchdog on Tuesday called on the international community to take action as details emerged about the death of a dissident journalist, seemingly at the hands of police in China.

Freelance journalist Sun Lin died in a hospital Friday, just hours after a police raid on his home in the eastern city of Nanjing.

A friend of the journalist, named Sun Liyong, told VOA Mandarin that nurses at the hospital have said that Sun Lin's clothes were ripped when he was admitted.

"He was sent to the hospital at 2:44 p.m. He probably was dead already before that. Three hours later, at 5:45 p.m., he was officially pronounced dead," Sun Liyong said.

Sun Liyong, who is founder of the Australia-based group the Support Network for the Persecuted in China, posted on social media details of the raid that he says came from the journalist's neighbors.

Neighbors reported seeing security officers arrive around 1 p.m. on Friday and shortly after heard sounds of fighting.

Days before the raid, the journalist had been sharing videos of anti-China protests on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum, held in San Francisco.

The journalist's family said he was healthy before the raid and had spoken with relatives earlier that day, according to Sun Liyong.

On social media platform X, Sun Liyong said that police visited the home of the journalist's ex-wife and asked that their daughter not "make a scene" over the death.

VOA's sister network Radio Free Asia reported that friends and colleagues of Sun Lin's have also been visited by police since his death.

As of Monday, the family had still not been allowed to see Sun Lin's body, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, or RSF.

Friends and activists issued a letter demanding that the Nanjing government open an investigation and that those responsible be held accountable.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent late Tuesday.

The Paris-based RSF has said it is "horrified" by the death of Sun Lin.

"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," RSF Asia-Pacific bureau director Cedric Alviani said in a statement.

The watchdog called on the international community to pressure Beijing to "end its relentless attacks" on press freedom.

Sun Lin, who also wrote under the name Jie Mu, had a long career in journalism and activism in China and had pushed back on censorship.

A former editor of Nanjing-based newspaper Business Times Today, he was once fired for writing articles critical of Beijing. Sun Lin later contributed to the U.S.-based website Boxun.

His coverage included cases of official harassment and political corruption, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In 2018 Chinese authorities sentenced Sun Lin to four years in prison for "incitement," and since his release in 2022 he had been under surveillance and denied visits from friends.

Because of that, Sun Lin had installed security cameras in and around his home, his friend Sun Liyong said.

"There are no dead corners in Sun Lin's house, there are cameras all over his house," Sun Liyong told VOA Mandarin: "But the Public Security Bureau is in possession of all the footage now."

China is a leading jailer of journalists and ranks behind only North Korea as having the worst environment for media freedom on RSF's World Press Freedom Index.

This article originated in VOA's Mandarin Service.