Police in Shanghai have busted a gang suspected of fabricating official documents and spreading rumors online.
A Ministry of Public Security statement Friday said the group, with members from over 20 provincial-level regions in China, used WeChat as a major platform to spread rumors about the Chinese government’s control of free speech online.
Han Wencai, a government official in Inner Mongolia, as well as five other suspects in the group have been placed under “compulsory measures” by police for public order violations, the statement said.
“Compulsory measures” include arrest, detention, issuing a warrant to compel a suspect to appear, bail pending trial or residential surveillance.
The statement said Han and other members of the group claimed to be officially employed “public opinion workers,” and fabricated payroll lists for these “workers” before publishing the lists on WeChat.
Some of them said they were senior government officials and posted photos online. They also faked details of senior state leaders, including official speeches, discussions of official meetings about public opinion control, and voice records.
The materials gained attention online and were used to attack the Chinese government for violating freedom of speech.
According to the ministry’s statement, the suspects have shown repentance.