Protest over China arrest for Twitter post

Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:22 PM

BEIJING, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- An online petition demanding release of a Beijing man accused of criticizing Chinese authorities on Twitter has hundreds of signatures, Web watchers say.

Zhai Xiaobing was arrested by police Nov. 15 just days before the new Chinese leadership was confirmed after his tweet compared the Communist Party 18th National Congress to the horror film "Final Destination" the BBC reported.

In the film, characters escape death at the beginning only to end up dying a variety of gruesome deaths one by one.

"The Great Hall of the People suddenly collapses, only seven of more than 2,000 people inside survive," the tweet from the Twitter name @Stariver said.

"Later, one-by-one the survivors die in strange ways. Is it the game of God, or the Devil venting his wrath?"

Chinese authorities have confirmed Zhai's arrest, saying it was because "he wrote a micro-blog post containing false information on the Internet."

Zhai's arrest was significant, one analyst said, because it had happened because of a post on Twitter, which is officially blocked in China, and not on the Chinese Sina Weibo site.

"It did surprise me at first -- it's a white-collar guy that seemed to have a misfortune to be arrested and made an example of, as there were many posts on Weibo worse than his," Duncan Clark, chairman of consulting company BDA China, told the BBC.

"In China, domestic sites have to hand over the IP address of a user when demanded to do so by the authorities, but with a foreign site there's no such jurisdiction -- so the Chinese government must have used other means to identify this person," Clark said.

It is unknown how Zhai was identified, but Chinese authorities have made arrests based on Twitter posts before.

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