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Journalists sued over iPod story
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2006-08-29 15:44
A Chinese court has frozen the personal assets of a reporter and an editor at a Shanghai newspaper after Apple iPod manufacturer Foxconn sued the pair for 30 million yuan (US$3.77 million) for allegedly damaging its reputation over reports of substandard work conditions.

Foxconn's subsidiary in Shenzhen reportedly petitioned the city's Intermediate People's Court on July 10 to freeze the property of Wang You, a reporter for China Business News, and Weng Bao, an editor at the newspaper. The locked-up assets include apartments, a car and bank accounts.

The company also filed a lawsuit against the journalists, seeking 20 million yuan from Wang and 10 million yuan from Weng. The case is the biggest of its kind on the Chinese mainland in terms of the size of the compensation claim.

Foxconn is the trade name of Taiwan-based information technology manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. It is owned by Terry Guo, one of Taiwan's richest men.

The lawsuit charges that a story written by Wang tarnished the company's reputation.

Wang's June 15 report claimed that most employees in Foxconn's Shenzhen factory worked more than 12 hours a day and earned only about 1,000 yuan a month. They also had to stand for long hours at their jobs and were not allowed to talk to others, the report alleged.

Foxconn spokesman Edmund Ding could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Wang told Shanghai Daily yesterday that the journalists received notice of the asset freeze but have not been given details on the lawsuit.

The China Business News yesterday said that it "stands firmly behind its journalists and will bear all possible consequences in this case."

The newspaper also said the entire Chinese journalism community will condemn Foxconn's decision to freeze the assets of individual journalists.

This is not the first time Foxconn has been involved in an action against journalists. In May 2004, the company sued a Taiwan reporter for NT$30 million (US$912,000) for a negative story.

Foxconn withdrew the lawsuit under pressure from the Association of Taiwan Journalists.

On June 11, just four days before Wang's story was published, Britain's Daily Mail ran a story alleging poor working conditions in Foxconn's mainland factories. That story touched off an investigation by Apple.

The company later said it found the supplier to be mostly in compliance, but it did find some violations of its code of conduct and was working to address the issues.

Source:Shanghai Daily 
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