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University Of Minnesota Student Imprisoned In China For Tweets Critical Of Chinese Government

A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota was arrested and jailed in China for posting tweets critical of the Chinese government while he was in the United States, reported Axios, citing a Chinese court document.

Benzinga · 01/23/2020 08:48

A Chinese student at the University of Minnesota was arrested and jailed in China for posting tweets critical of the Chinese government while he was in the United States, reported Axios, citing a Chinese court document.

What Happened

The 20-year-old student, Luo Daiqing, allegedly tweeted some “indecent” images of a “national leader” between September and October 2018, according to the court paperwork.

“While he was studying at the University of Minnesota," Luo "used his Twitter account to post more than 40 comments denigrating a national leader's image and indecent pictures," which "created a negative social impact," says the court document dated Nov. 5, 2019.

Luo was detained in July 2019 in his hometown Wuhan, where he came on vacation after completing his spring semester at Minnesota. After months in detention, Luo was sentenced to six months in prison in November 2019.

According to Axios, Luo’s Twitter account has several tweets and retweets that contain morphed images Chinese President Xi Jinping, comparing him to cartoon characters like Lawrence Limburger and Winnie the Poo.

Why It Matters

China’s attempts to suppress free speech abroad escalated last year when they started a massive crackdown on Twitter users critical of the Chinese government. Many Twitter users in China at the time faced detention and threats in Beijing.

Earlier in March 2018, President Xi Jinping started an internet censorship campaign to suppress internet activity in China.

A number of globally popular sites, including sites of Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), and Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) video platform YouTube are blocked in China under the country's Internet censorship policy.

Price Action

Twitter’s shares declined 0.21% to close at $34.02 on Wednesday, while Facebook, Inc. traded 0.054% lower and closed at $221.32.