Chinese police have closed an allegedly illegal newspaper and arrested two of its staff after the paper reported an alleged miscarriage of justice.
The Social News was not licensed for distribution on the Chinese mainland by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and provided false information about its registration in Hong Kong, said a statement from the GAPP on Sunday.
The People's Court Daily had earlier reported that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Government neither registered the newspaper nor recorded any tax payments from the company.
Investigators also found the address of the newspaper's Hong Kong office belonged to another unrelated company, said the statement.
Its real office was located in a rent apartment at Chaoyang district, east Beijing.
Police arrested Gao Yang, president and chief correspondent of the newspaper, who held no legal certificate from the GAPP, which registers journalists and issues press cards, it said.
Gao, born in 1968 in southwest China's Sichuan Province, finished three years in secondary school and went to Beijing to seek work in 2004, said the statement.
He Guiying, the financial controller of the newspaper and "mistress" of Gao, was also arrested, said the statement.
Gao was likely to be charged with fraud, publishing and distributing illegal publications and organizing an unauthorized public gathering, the police said, adding the case was still under investigation.
The Social News had been published for two years when it started to report a case of an alleged "unfair" judgment at the municipal court of Yingkou city in northeast China's Liaoning Province in June.
"We became suspicious of the newspaper because its stories on the case were baseless," Du Linkui, chief judge of the court, was quoted by the People's Court Daily as saying. The Yingkou court reported the newspaper to the GAPP.
The GAPP statement gave no further details on the case.
The local police said that Gao took a large sum of money from one party of the case in return for publishing stories and organized an illegal gathering outside the court.
The GAPP is to extend a nationwide campaign against false news reports, unauthorized publications and bogus journalists, which started in August, till March next year.
It asked its branches to be aware of serious problems in the publishing market. "Some illegal publishers change the names and place of distribution to avoid inspection; some publications, claiming to be registered abroad, are sold here without legal qualification and some even fake foreign identity; some legal publishers do not manage their publications and even sell the licenses to unqualified individuals or organizations," the notice said.