But he was still arrested:
Chinese media were largely critical of Chen’s detention, accusing police of abuse of power.
The liberal Southern Weekly, which like the New Express is based in the southern city of Guangzhou, said Thursday on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that police were seeking to create a “terrifying atmosphere”.
Chinese authorities have launched a broad crackdown on “online rumours”, with a recent rule saying that Internet users could face three years in prison for writing defamatory messages that are then re-posted 500 times.
Paris-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders hailed the New Express move as “courageous” and joined its call for Chen to be freed.
“The government must stop harassing journalists and netizens and must end its ‘anti-rumour’ campaign, which is a pretext for stifling dissent,” it said in a statement.
The state-run Global Times on Thursday sought to play down anger against the government and urged authorities at a higher level to intervene.
“Chinese society will adapt to these cases and learn to consider each case as it stands,” it said in an editorial.
“This will quell the current fever for relating everything to the ‘inaction’ of judicial authorities.”