Internet rumourmonger pleads guilty

Internet rumourmonger pleads guilty
A still image shows a police officer escorting Qin Zhihui, right, in this screen grab from CCTV.

CHINA - A man who created online rumours intended to slander and cause trouble pleaded guilty on Friday.

Qin Zhihui, better known by his online name Qin Huohuo, was arrested on Aug 19 last year and charged with slander and causing disturbances by spreading false information on the Internet.

The 30-year-old native of Hunan province, appeared before Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court where he confessed to posting a series of fake micro blogs between 2011 and 2013, saying he wanted to arouse public attention and increase the popularity of his micro-blogging account.

Prosecutors said Qin's fake information had damaged reputations, including those of Yang Lan, who runs a media group, and Zhang Haidi, a wheelchair-bound political adviser.

Qin published on his micro blog that Yang had made a fake donation and that Zhang's nationality was Japanese, which created negative social reaction to the people and also agitated the online environment.

Qin also posted a micro blog that a foreign passenger received millions of yuan in compensation after two trains collided at Yongwen, Zhejiang province in July 2011. The claim was proved false by railway authorities.

Qin's lawyer said other people had made use of Qin's micro blog to post fake information, as after the defendant was detained the micro blog continued to be active.

"We cannot say that all online rumours were made by Qin," the lawyer said. In addition, some false information had been on the Internet before Qin published, "which proved that the defendant did not mean to damage these people's reputation," the lawyer added.

Prosecutors countered that Qin had the chance to confirm information via the Internet, but had failed to do so, "which meant he knew what he published was rumour and this was more serious."

Qin's micro blog relating to the train collision was forwarded more than 10,000 times, while some other posts generated thousands of comments online, the prosecutors said.

The court did not announce its sentence.

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