National Press Club

National Press Club asks China’s ambassador for answers on missing photographer

December 10, 2018 | By John Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

The presidents of the National Press Club and its non-profit Journalism Institute wrote China’s ambassador to the United States on Dec. 10 calling for the release from prison of a U.S.-based photojournalist who was arrested more than a month ago in China.

The letter to Ambassador Cui Tiankai requested an explanation of the Nov. 3 arrest in Xinjiang province of Lu Guang, an award-winning freelance photographer of Chinese descent who resides in New York and whose work has documented environmental and social issues in China.

Lu’s family has not been able to ascertain if any charges have been filed against him.

“Frankly, we are concerned that Lu’s case is just the latest example of a disturbing trend: journalists being jailed by China as a way to silence them,” wrote Club President Andrea Edney and Barbara Cochran, president of the NPC Journalism Institute.

Text of the letter is below.

Dec. 10, 2018
Ambassador Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United States of America
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008 U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We at the National Press Club and its nonprofit journalism institute have been dismayed by recent reports of the arrest of Lu Guang, an award-winning photojournalist who resides in New York, in Xinjiang province.

As you may know, Lu is a freelance photographer who is known for his work documenting environmental and social issues in China. The reports indicate that his family lost touch with him on Nov. 3, more than a month ago. Chinese authorities reportedly confirmed Lu’s detention to his family but have not explained why he is being detained.

On behalf of more than 3,000 communications and media professionals we are requesting that you tell us where our colleague is being held, what he is being charged with and what the next steps are in his case. We see no reason that he should not be allowed to do his job in freedom.

Frankly, we are concerned that Lu’s case is just the latest example of a disturbing trend: journalists being jailed by China as a way to silence them. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 41 news professionals were imprisoned in China at the end of last year--the second highest total of any nation.

As China expands its media presence across the globe, journalists for your country’s news agencies have been able to take advantage of press freedoms here and in other host countries to report critically about government institutions. We would hope that members of the media would be able to do the same in China.

We would appreciate it if you would provide us with a prompt and full explanation of what has happened to our colleague. And we thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Andrea Edney
President, National Press Club
Barbara Cochran
President, National Press Club Journalism Institute