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January 03, 2003 06:39am
Police Apologise to Man Jailed for Watching Porn
Source: UK Reuters

(BEIJING, CHINA) -- Police in northwest China have made a rare apology to a man they surprised at home and dragged to jail for watching pornographic videos with his wife, state newspapers said.

The case, reported widely by newspapers, prompted intense debate among Chinese about privacy in a country struggling to balance traditional morality and personal freedom.

"We are very guilty for the pain we have caused. We are apologising to you now," the Beijing Youth Daily quoted a police official in the city of Yan'an as saying, adding authorities would reprimand the officers responsible.

Four officers burst into the house Zhang Lei, 24, shared with his wife and parents on August 18 to confiscate pornographic videos after a tip-off, the newspaper said.

The police tried to take Zhang's video player and television as well, it said, resulting in a brawl with family members.

Authorities hauled Zhang and his father to jail for spreading pornography and obstructing justice. Both were released the next day after the family paid 1,000 yuan (76 pounds), the newspaper said.

Two months later, police again detained Zhang for obstruction of justice and held him for about two weeks.

But prosecutors refused to get involved, citing a lack of evidence, and Zhang was never arrested or officially charged.

After his release, Zhang's family hired a lawyer to sue the police, but the two sides settled out of court earlier this week.

Authorities, bowing to growing media and public censure, had also agreed to give Zhang 29,137 yuan and to issue a formal apology, the newspaper said.

State media did not say what happened to the videos.

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