Singer's fake bomb threat sparks debate

3 August 2013 / 3 years 2 months ago

Discussion online about terrorism threats and harmless jokes has continued in China, after outspoken singer Wu Hongfei was released by police on Friday after posting a fake bomb threat online.

Wu, lead singer of the rock band Happy Avenue, was released on Friday, after a 10-day administrative detention and a 500-yuan ($81) fine, reports China Daily.

She was detained and placed under criminal detention on July 23 after threatening to bomb a government building and a residential committee in Beijing on her Sina Weibo micro blog on July 21.

The threats were posted the morning after a man in a wheelchair set off a bomb at the Beijing Capital International Airport, injuring himself.

Wu's penalty was later changed to administrative detention - a much lighter punishment.

People placed in criminal detention are likely to face criminal charges, while those deemed guilty of minor offences are normally held in administrative detention. People can be held in administrative detention for up to 15 days without a trial or criminal charges being filed.

Zhan Jiang, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said law enforcement agencies should not trample on freedom of speech while regulating hate speech.

Zhan added that Wu's detention has raised questions about whether the police overreacted after a harmless joke.

Zhan said that Wu's bomb threat, joke or not, was "serious misconduct" and should be "harshly criticised", especially at a time when police in Beijing are under great pressure.

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