Sunday, October 31, 2021

Translation: New York Times v. Sullivan with PRC Characteristics

Intermediate People's Court of Yulin, Shaanxi


Administrative Decision


(2020) Shaan 08 Administrative Final No. 521


Translator's Summary: The court found that police did not violate Yuan's rights when they subjected him to administrative detention for reposting an article to his personal social media accounts that police determined defamed a Communist Party cadre. The court held that as a journalist Yuan had a duty to verify the contents of the article.

Appellant (plaintiff in the original trial) Yuan Jianmeng, male, born [INTENTIONALLY OMITTED], 1982, Han ethnicity, born in Taiyuan, Shanxi, residing in Yingze District, Taiyuan.

Entrusted representative Zhang Jinzhen is a lawyer at the Shanxi Wenying Law Firm.

Appellee (defendant in the original trial) Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division.Address: Shaanxi Yulin, Huancheng North Road, Hengshan District, Unified Social Credit Code: 1161080001******.

Legal representative He Guoyu, director.

Person in charge of the court appearance Lu Jianjiang, deputy director.

Entrusted representative Luo Bin, a police officer at the Division's Legal Department.

Entrusted representative Hui Hao, a police officer at the Division's cyber security brigade.

Appellee (defendant in the original trial) Public Security Bureau of Yulin. Address: Shaanxi Yulin, No. 4, Fushi Road, Yuyang District. Unified Social Credit Code: 11610800016*******.

Legal representative Qiu Zuman, Director.

Entrusted representative Zhang Hao and Wang Long are police officers at the Bureau's Legal Department.

In relation to a public security administrative punishment case, appellant Yuan Jianmeng did not accept the People's Court of Yuyang, Yulin's (2019) Shaan 0802 Administrative First Instance No. 70 administrative judgment, and filed an appeal with this Court. After this Court docketed the case, it formed a collegial panel in accordance with the law and tried this case. The trial has now concluded.

In his lawsuit appellant Yuan Jianmeng requested the court in the trial of first instance:

1. Rescind the Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision rendered by defendant Public Security Office of Hengshan on January 29, 2019;

2. Rescind the Yu Public Reconsideration Decision (2019) No. 11 reconsideration decision rendered by the Public Security Bureau of Yulin on April 28, 2019; and

3. The litigation costs in this case be born by defendant No. 2.

The court in the original trial ascertained at trial that: Plaintiff Yuan Jianmeng was a reporter for the Shanxi Newspaper Group's Development Herald New Horizons Weekly. On January 25, 2019, the plaintiff did, without undertaking any verification, repost an article with the title "The 'Big Knife Brigade' In Hengxing Township, Did the King of the District Committee Really Serve the People?" from the Wechat public account "Brilliant City Recommendations" to his own registered Sina Weibo blog "Understanding Chang'an Street" and also pushed it to his personal Weibo account "Understanding Baiwan Zhuang," where it was clicked on over 1,300 times. This constitutes illegal defamatory facts.

In accordance with Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law," on January 29, 2019, defendant Public Security Office of Hengshan rendered the Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision, imposing a punishment on the plaintiff of eight days administrative detention. The plaintiff did not accept this, and applied to the defendant Public Security Bureau of Yulin for reconsideration. On April 28, 2019 that office rendered the Yu Public Reconsideration Decision (2019) No. 11 reconsideration decision, and in accordance with the provisions of Article 28(1)(i) of the "Administrative Reconsideration Law of the People's Republic of China" (hereinafter referred to as the "Administrative Reconsideration Law"), sustained the aforementioned Administrative Punishment Decision rendered by the defendant Public Security Office of Hengshan. The plaintiff still did not accept this, and filed a lawsuit with this Court, raising the aforementioned claims.

The court in the original trial held that, in accordance with the provisions of Article 7 of the "Public Security Administration Punishment Law," the public security agency of the local people's governments at or above the county level are responsible for the administration of public security within their administrative area. The jurisdiction of public security cases are stipulated by the public security department of the State Council. Article 9 of the "Procedures for the Handling of Administrative Cases by Public Security Agencies" of the Ministry of Public Security stipulates that administrative cases shall be under the jurisdiction of the public security agency in the place where the illegal act occurs. Hengshan District is the primary place where the consequences of the offense in this case occurred, which is under the jurisdiction of the Public Security Division of Hengshan. Therefore, that office has the statutory authority to investigate and handle violations of public security administration that are implicated in this case.

Article 12 of the "Administrative Reconsideration Law" stipulates that if someone is dissatisfied with a specific administrative action of a working agency of a local people's governments at or above the county level, the individual may choose to apply for administrative reconsideration to the people's government at the same level as the department, or apply for administrative reconsideration to the competent department at the next higher level. The Public Security Bureau of Yulin, as the upper-level competent department of the Public Security Division of Hengshan, has the statutory authority to accept the plaintiff’s administrative reconsideration application, and to conduct a corresponding review and processing of administrative actions made by the Public Security Division of Hengshan.

The point of dispute in this case is whether or not the appellant's conduct constitutes a fabrication of facts to defame a third party under Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China." This Court interprets what is meant by the illegal act of "a fabrication of facts to defame a third party" as that offense is set forth in Article 246 of the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China" "(hereinafter referred to as the "Criminal Law"), and with reference to the provisions of Article 1 of the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Defamation Through Information Networks and Other Criminal Cases" (hereinafter referred to as the "Interpretation").

According to Article 1 of the "Interpretation" and the identified actions of the plaintiff that have been punished, the key to resolving the point of dispute in this case lies in whether the plaintiff, when reposting the article with the content about Wang Xiaoli, acted in a matter that consistent with the second paragraph of that article: "with clear knowledge that facts are fabricated that will harm the reputation of a third party." In this regard, the plaintiff claimed that the evidence of the second defendant was not sufficient to meet the clear knowledge requirement, and the plaintiff verified the authenticity of the article by looking up the source on the Internet. The second defendant argued that the plaintiff was a journalist and had a higher duty of verification with respect to reposting content, and failing to fulfill that duty amounts to having clear knowledge.

This Court finds that clear knowledge is the subjective mental state of the actor, and includes both "knew" and "should have known." The defendant’s evidence on facts did not show that the plaintiff knew exactly that the content of Wang Xiaoli in the reposted article was fabricated, so it is necessary to examine whether the plaintiff "should have known." "Should have known" is a conjecture as to the plaintiff's subjective attitude. It must be comprehensively judged based on various evidentiary materials, including the information that was disseminated, as well as the identity, occupation, and life experience of the actor.

First, the content about Wang Xiaoli that was posted was "Wang Chengbao long oppressed the masses and harmed one party, under the protective umbrella and the inaction of the Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao…" and "The Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao...served as a protective umbrella for underworld forces." Those are charges that Wang Xiaoli is suspected of serious crimes, but suspicions of citizens' crimes have to be based on investigations and determinations made by relevant State law enforcement agencies in the fulfillment of their authorized duties. If the plaintiff fails to verify with relevant departments and there is no judgment from law enforcement agencies in the reposted article, then on the basis of common legal knowledge one could recognize that the authenticity of this charge is unreliable.

Second, the plaintiff is a journalist. According to Article 18 of the "Administrative Measures for Journalist Accreditation," which stipulates the professional standards of journalists, "Journalists who use journalist accreditation to engage in news gathering activities shall abide by laws and regulations and journalistic professional ethics, and ensure that news reports are true, comprehensive, objective, and fair. They shall not compile and distribute false reports,  publish false news, or conceal news facts that should be reported." He should have a higher level of awareness and judgment regarding the authenticity and objectivity of the information published, so he has a greater ability to recognize the baselessness of the charges against Wang Xiaoli in the forwarded article. Although the plaintiff claimed that his forwarding behavior was not an act done his professional capacity, this fact does not affect his cognitive ability, and the defense is not sustained.

Finally, the plaintiff admitted that the blog account he used to repost the article was registered at his place of work, which also indicates that the plaintiff had a higher duty of caution in disseminating information through this account.

In summary, if the plaintiff has the capability and qualifications to verify the charge of the suspected crime that he reposted, but does not use basic verification methods, it can be determined that he should have known that the charge was not true.
Defendant Public Security Office of Hengshan lawfully reached the same conclusion based on the evidence collected during the administrative punishment process.

After receiving the reconsideration application from the plaintiff, the Public Security Bureau of Yulin fulfilled the procedures of acceptance, notification response, and verification, and ultimately rendered a reconsideration decision and served it in accordance with the law.

It was ascertained at trial that the Bureau’s administrative reconsideration procedure complied with the law and was not improper, and this determination was sustained by the court. The plaintiff's request to revoke the defendant's reconsideration decision lacked corresponding basis, and the court did not sustain it.

Accordingly, after discussion and decision by the court's adjudicative committee, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 69 and 79 of the "Administrative Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China," the judgment was: All of plaintiff Yuan Jianmeng's claims were rejected. The case acceptance fee of 50 yuan would be borne by plaintiff Yuan Jianmeng.

Appellant Yuan Jianmeng did not accept the aforementioned judgment and appealed making the following requests:

1. Rescind the judgment in the trial of first instance, and render a judgment rescinding the Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision and the Yu Public Reconsideration Decision (2019) No. 11 reconsideration decision rendered by the appellees.

2. All litigation fees to be borne by the defendant in the original trial承担.

Facts and Reasoning:

1. The facts determined in the judgment of the trial of first instance lacked evidentiary support. At 7:55 pm on January 25, 2019, appellant found the article titled "The 'Big Knife Brigade' In Hengxing Township, Did the King of the District Committee Really Serve the People?" while browsing the WeChat public account "Brilliant City Recommendations." Appellant the reposted the article on his Sina Weibo blogs "Understanding Chang'an Street" and "Understanding Baiwan Zhuang," and it was subsequently clicked on and viewed by others. Appellant was not the original author of the article involved. He just reposted an existing article from a website to his own blog, and he conducted searches on Baidu and other websites before collecting it on the blog to confirm that it was an article that had already been publicly disseminated, reposted, and transmitted, and that it was information known to the public-at-large. He had already fulfilled the duty of verification of the reposted article involved in the case, and Beijing Online, Zhejiang Online, domestic news and other websites, as well as the "Democracy and Law" magazine, had also reported some of the facts described in the article.

Therefore, appellant does not have a subjective motive to intentionally infringe on the reputation of others. The court of first instance, however, inferred the existance of appellant's subjective intent based on his identity as a journalist. This is contrary to legal common sense.

Everyone is equal before the law, and the law does not expressly stipulate that citizens who are journalists must have the obligation to verify when reposting and collecting articles. The court of first instance committed an error when it applied different legal treatment based on a citizen's identity.

In addition, the judgment in the original trial clearly determined that "the defendant's evidence about facts did not show that the plaintiff knew exactly that the content about Wang Xiaoli in the reposted article was fabricated." Appellee, as an administrative organ, had the legal obligation to produce evidence of illegal conduct. It is obviously not in accordance with laws and regulations for appellee to determine that appellant violated the law and impose administrative punishment when evidence was insufficient. Furthermore, the court in the trial of first instance cannot use a citizen's identity to infer that the appellee's administrative punishment was legal

2. The judgment in the trial of first instance applied the law incorrectly. Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China" and the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Defamation Through Information Networks and Other Criminal Cases" stipulate that the fabrication of facts to defame a third party must be "with clear knowledge that facts are fabricated that will harm the reputation of a third party." This stipulation makes it clear that the subjective aspects of the illegal conduct must be intentional. The evidence provided by appellee clearly proves that appellant checked this article on other websites before reposting. Appellant fulfilled his duty of verification for that article, and subjectively there existed no intent to infringe on the reputation of others and no knowledge that there were fabricated false facts, and appellant did not anticipate the result. Intent means knowing subjectively and hoping that a result will occur. It is obvious that there is an inconsistency between the appellant's subjectivity and objectivity, and it does not constitute an intentional violation of law. The court of first instance's finding that the appellant "should have known" was a conjecture regarding the subjective attitude of the appellant.

Appellant believes that "should know" is what the individual "should have known" according to an individual's age, occupation, social life experience level, etc. Where an individual "should have known" but did not actually do not know, at most it can only constitute careless negligence, and not intent with clear knowledge. Where an actor should have known but there is insufficient evidence to prove their knowledge, it should not be regarded as what the individual "should have known."

The court of first instance only determined that the appellant "knew or should have known" based on  his identity as a journalist. It only inferred that the appellant had the capability and qualifications to verify the article he is suspected of having reposted in violation of the law, but failed to adopt basic verification measures, from the fact that he registered a blog and an account at his place of work. From the foregoing it incorrectly concluded the appellant should have known that the subject of the charges were untrue. Appellant doesn't know Wang Xiaoli, has never been to Shaanxi, and lacks the basic qualifications to conduct a verification as far as geography and interpersonal relationships are concerned. What's more, Appellant only reposted and collected on his own blog, and did not subjectively deliberately spread or disseminate. As far as that article is concerned, appellant in fact subjectively did not know it to be false, and appellee has no evidence proving what exactly the appellant knew, and therefore it should not be regarded as something he "should have known."

The court in the trial of first instance made reference to the provisions of Article 18 of the "Administrative Measures for Journalist Accreditation," but the object of these administrative measures applies to journalists in their use of their press cards to engage in news interviews and news broadcasts. It does not specifically regulate individual journalists who collect articles on their own blogs in their personal capacity. The court of first instance's application of the law was inappropriate.


The Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision rendered by the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division and the Yu Public Reconsideration Decision (2019) No. 11 reconsideration decision rendered by the Public Security Bureau of Yulin have no legal basis. In accordance with the provisions of Article 70(2) of the Administrative Litigation Law, the people's court should rule to rescind the administrative acts of the Appellee.

Appellee Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division argues:

1. The facts determined by the court in the trial of first instance were clear and the evidence was copious. Appellant Yuan Jianmeng was a reporter for the Shanxi Newspaper Group's Development Herald New Horizons Weekly. On January 25, 2019, he did, without undertaking any verification, repost an article with the title "The 'Big Knife Brigade' In Hengxing Township, Did the King of the District Committee Really Serve the People?" from the Wechat public account "Brilliant City Recommendations" to the Sina Weibo blog "Understanding Chang'an Street" registered and used by him, and also pushed it to his personal Weibo account "Understanding Baiwan Zhuang," where it was clicked on 1,168 and 183 times, respectively. Yuan Jianmeng, as someone who worked as a journalist, spread the unverified information on a blog and a Weibo account that greatly affected the normal work and life of the Hengshan District Communist Party Committee Secretary Wang Xiaoli himself.

2. Yuan Jianmeng disseminated fact that he clearly knew harmed the reputation of third party but that had yet to be proven to be factual through an investigation. His actions constitute defamation. Yuan Jianmeng reposted an article with the title "The Big Knife Brigade"In Hengxing Township, Did the King of the District Committee Really Serve the People??" that made a connection between "The Big Knife Brigade," which was suspected of committing crimes, and Wang Xiaoli, the Hengshan District Party Committee Secretary. His goal in doing so was grab eyeballs and increase clicks. The content in the article "Wang Chengbao long oppressed the masses and harmed one party, under the protective umbrella and the inaction of the Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao…" and "The Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao...served as a protective umbrella for underworld forces" were charges that Wang Xiaoli was suspected of committing severe crimes.

Whether a citizen is suspected of a crime has to be based on investigations and determinations made by relevant State law enforcement agencies in the fulfillment of their authorized duties. Yuan Jianmeng failed to verify anything with relevant departments and there were no opinions from law enforcement agencies in the reposted article. He merely searched for an article titled "The Big Knife Brigade" on websites such as Baidu. Having naturally concluded that the contents of the article had been publicized by others, and had been reposted and disseminated, he naturally concluded that the content of this article was common knowledge among the public, and reposted this article on the Sina Weibo blog that he personally used and registered and his personal Weibo account.

An adult member of the general public can recognize that the authenticity of the charges against Comrade Wang Xiaoli in the article are unreliable based on common legal knowledge. As a journalist, Yuan Jianmeng had the duty to verify and identify the information he published and reposted, and he should have a higher level of awareness and judgment as to the authenticity and objectivity of information that he disseminates. He had a greater ability to recognize the baselessness of of the charges against Wang Xiaoli.

Yuan Jianmeng had the capability and qualifications to verify the suspected crimes charged in the article he reposted, but he failed to employ basic verification methods, and from this it can be determined that he should have known that the content of those charges was untrue. His act of reposting unverified information that damaged the reputation of a third party corresponds with the fabrication of facts to defame a third party in the offense of defamation in Article 246 of the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China" as interpreted in Article 1 of the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Defamation Through Information Networks and Other Criminal Cases."

3. Our division applied the law correctly in this case, and the specific administrative penalties imposed were appropriate, fair. and just.  On January 25, 2019, Yuan Jianmeng did, without undertaking any verification, repost and disseminated an untruthful article, and his actions were suspected of being defamatory. Because his illegal actions did not constitute the commission of an offense under the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China," on January 29, 2019 our division subjected Yuan Jianmeng to eight days administrative detention in accordance with the provisions of Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China," and delivered him to the Hengshan District Detention Center to execute it on the same day.

In summary, the facts in the Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision rendered by our division are clear, the evidence is conclusive and copious, the law was applied correctly, and the procedures were lawful.

The judgment rendered by the court in the trial of first instance rejecting the appellant's claims was reasonable and lawful.

It is requested that the court in the trial of second instance reject the appeal in accordance with the law and uphold the judgment in the original trial.

Defendant Public Security Bureau of Yulin argued:

1. The facts of appellant's illegal actions facts are clear, the evidence is conclusive, and the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division applied the law correctly, employed lawful proceedures, and applied appropriate punishment. The facts determined by the court in the trial of first instance were clear, and the evidence was copious.

2. The procedures of our bureau in rendering the administrative reconsideration decision were lawful, and the law was applied correctly. In accordance with the provisions of Articles 17 and 23 of the "Administrative Reconsideration Law of the People's Republic of China," on March 26, 2019 our bureau accepted Yuan Jianmeng's administrative reconsideration application in which he maintained he did not accept the Heng Public (Cyber Security) Administrative Punishment Decision (2019) No. 67 administrative punishment decision rendered by the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division on January 29, 2019, and in accordance with the law notified the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division to respond and submit relevant materials.

In accordance with the provisions of Article 22 of the "Administrative Reconsideration Law of the People's Republic of China," after the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division sent the case files and written responses to our bureau, the police from the legal department of our bureau reviewed the case. On April 28, 2019, after legal department completed its review, the person in charge of the city's public security bureau convened the Law Enforcement Management Committee to discuss and study the matter, and determined that the facts regarding the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division's handling of the case were clear, the evidence was copious, the procedures were lawful, and the law was applied correctly. It rendered a decision to sustain, and in accordance with the law, mailed the administrative reconsideration decision to appellant Yuan Jianmeng.

In summary, the administrative penalty decision rendered by the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division and the administrative reconsideration decision rendered by our bureau have clear facts, copious evidence, lawful procedures, and correctly applied laws. The judgement in the trial of first instance had clear facts and correctly applied laws. It is requested that the appeal be rejected and the judgment in the original trial be upheld.

During the trial of second instance appellant Yuan Jianmeng produced a screenshot of a web page in order to prove: There existed actual facts relevant to the case, which were affirmed with the signatures and fingerprints of ordinary people. Appellant had fulfilled his duty of verification, and it should be deemed authentic content.

The opinion of appellee the Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division with respect to the evidence examined is: The time of the screenshot report is not clear, and the portion that is clearly visible is not related to the article the appellant reposted. The villagers' fingerprints cannot prove the authenticity of the content. The authenticity should be have been acknowledged by an official agency, and journalists should go to the scene to verify the authenticity of news. It does not acknowledge the probative value of the evidence.

The opinion of appellee the Public Security Bureau of Yulin with respect to the evidence examined is: It does not acknowledge the authenticity, relevance, and probative value of the evidence.

This Court certifies the aforementioned evidence as follows: The content contained in the screenshot was not issued by a statutory authority. Moreover, the content contained in the screenshot is not consistant with the content of the article reproduced by Appellant, and it is insufficient to substantiate the authenticity of the content of the article reproduced by Appellant. It is also insufficient to prove that appellant fulfilled his duty of verification, and it is not accepted as probative.

The facts ascertained in the trial of second instance were consistent with the facts ascertained at the trial of first instance, and are affirmed by this Court.

This Court finds: The point of dispute in this case is whether or not the appellant's conduct constitutes a fabrication of facts to defame a third party under Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China." With respect to this, pursuant to the provisions of Article (1) of the "Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues Concerning the Specific Application of Law in the Handling of Defamation Through Information Networks and Other Criminal Cases" (Judicial Interpretation(2013) No. 21), if the conduct of an actor involves fabricated facts that damage the reputation of others which are disseminated on information networks, it may be regarded as fabricating facts to defame others. In determining the authenticity of information, the disseminator shall bear the necessary burden of proof, especially in circumstances where the disseminated information may have an adverse effect on others and the public interest. This is the boundary for citizens' freedom of speech, and it is also the boundary for citizens to exercise their rights of supervision and criticism. It is also necessary to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of others, social stability, and public order and fair practice.

According to the facts ascertained in this case, on January 25, 2019, the appellant reposted an article with the title "The 'Big Knife Brigade' In Hengxing Township, Did the King of the District Committee Really Serve the People?" from the Wechat public account "Brilliant City Recommendations" to the Sina Weibo blog "Understanding Chang'an Street" registered and used by him, and also pushed it to his personal Weibo account "Understanding Baiwan Zhuang," where it was clicked on over 1,300 times. The reprinted article alleged that "Wang Chengbao long oppressed the masses and harmed one party, under the protective umbrella and the inaction of the Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao…" and "The Secretary of the Hengshan District Committee, Wang Hao...served as a protective umbrella for  underworld forces." The dissemination of the aforementioned information would obviously lower the reputation and social evaluation of the government agencies and personnel involved. When publishing the aforementioned assertions, however, appellant did not provide any authoritative corroborating determinations rendered by law enforcement agencies such as supervisory agencies, judicial agencies, prosecutorial agencies, etc. During the investigation by the public security agency and subsequent litigation, appellant also failed to provide probative evidence on which to base a judgment. Under these circumstances, the information released by him cannot be said to be true, and it is difficult to establish the reason why he believes that he has fulfilled his obligation to verify the content of the reposted content. Appellant should bear the corresponding adverse consequences for his own behavior.

Based on the facts it had ascertained, appellee Public Security Bureau of Yulin, Hengshan Division determined that Appellant’s behavior constituted a defamation, and in accordance with Article 42(2) of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China" it imposed an administrative penalty of five days detention.2 There is nothing improper in its determination of the facts, its application of the law, or the degree of punishment it imposed.

The Public Security Bureau of Yulin reconsideration upholding the punishment decision was correct.

In summary, appellant’s claims lack a factual and legal basis, and the original judgment is rejecting appellant’s claims was correct, and is sustained by this Court.

Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of Article 89(1) of the "Administrative Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China," the judgment is as follows:

The appeal is rejected, and the judgment in the original trial is upheld.

The case acceptance fee of 50 yuan in the trial of second instance shall be borne by appellant Yuan Jianmeng.

This judgment shall be the final judgment.

Chief Adjudicator  Ma Yurong
Adjudicator  Wang Jing
Adjudicator  Liu Hongmei

May 29, 2020

Clerk  Kou Yanyan

 陕西省榆林市中级人民法院


行政判决书


(2020)陕08行终52号


上诉人(原审原告)原建猛,男,1982年 [INTENTIONALLY OMITTED]出生,汉族,山西省太原市人,住太原市迎泽区。


委托代理人张晋珍,山西文英律师事务所律师。

被上诉人(原审被告)榆林市公安局横山分局。住所地:陕西省榆林市横山区环城北路,统一社会信用代码:1161080001******。

法定代表人贺国钰,局长。

出庭负责人鲁建江,副局长。

委托代理人罗斌,系该局法制大队民警。

委托代理人惠浩,系该局网络安全保卫大队民警。

被上诉人(原审被告)榆林市公安局。住所地:陕西省榆林市榆阳区肤施路4号。统一社会信用代码:11610800016*******。

法定代表人邱祖满,局长。

委托代理人张皓、王龙,系该局法制支队民警。

上诉人原建猛因治安行政处罚一案,不服陕西省榆林市榆阳区人民法院(2019)陕0802行初70号行政判决,向本院提起上诉。本院受理后,依法组成合议庭审理了本案。现已审理终结。

上诉人原建猛向一审法院起诉请求:一、撤销被告横山公安分局2019年1月29日作出的横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定书;二、撤销被告榆林市公安局2019年4月28日作出的榆公复决〔2019〕11号复议决定书;三、本案诉讼费用二被告承担。

原审法院经审理查明:原告原建猛为山西报业集团发展导报新视界周刊记者。2019年1月25日,原告在未经核实的情况下,将微信公众号“城市精彩推荐”上的题为《“大刀队”横行乡里,区委王效力真的为民效力了吗?》的文章转载在自己注册的新浪博客“长安街知事”并同步推送至其个人微博账号“百万庄知事”,点击量达到1300多次,构成诽谤违法事实。被告横山公安分局根据《治安处罚法》第四十二条第(二)项之规定,于2019年1月29日作出横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定,对原告处以行政拘留八日的处罚。原告不服,向被告榆林市公安局申请复议,该局于2019年4月28日作出榆公复决〔2019〕11号复议决定书,依据《中华人民共和国行政复议法》(以下简称《行政复议法》)第二十八条第一款第(一)项之规定,维持了被告横山公安分局作出的前述行政处罚决定书。原告仍不服,向本院提起诉讼,提出前述诉讼请求。

原审法院认为,依据《治安管理处罚法》第七条的规定,县级以上地方各级人民政府公安机关负责本行政区域内的治安管理工作。治安案件的管辖由国务院公安部门规定。公安部《公安机关办理行政案件程序规定》第九条规定,行政案件由违法行为地的公安机关管辖。横山区系本案违法行结果主要发生地,属横山公安分局管辖地,故该局对涉案违反治安管理的行为具有进行调查、处理的法定职权。

《行政复议法》第十二条规定,对县级以上地方各级人民政府工作部门的具体行政行为不服的,由申请人选择,可以向该部门的本级人民政府申请行政复议,也可以向上一级主管部门申请行政复议。榆林市公安局作为横山公安分局的上一级主管部门,具有受理原告的行政复议申请,针对横山公安分局作出的行政行为进行相应审查并进行处理的法定职权。

本案的争议焦点在于原告转载文章的行为是否构成《治安管理处罚法》第四十二条第(二)项规定的捏造事实诽谤他人。对该违法行为的含义,本院参照《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院关于办理利用信息网络实施诽谤等刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》(以下称《解释》)第一条对《中华人民共和国刑法》(以下称《刑法》)第二百四十六条规定的诽谤罪中“捏造事实诽谤他人”的解释。

根据《解释》第一条和已查明的原告被处罚的行为,解决本案争议焦点的关键在于原告在转发文章时对其中关于王效力的内容是否符合该条第二款:“明知是捏造的损害他人名誉的事实”。对此,原告称二被告证据不足以证明该要件,且原告通过网络检索出处的方式核实了文章的真实性。而二被告辩称原告是记者,对转载内容有更高的核实义务,但未尽该义务,属于明知。本院认为,明知是行为人的主观心态,包括“知道”和“应当知道”两种情形。被告关于事实方面的证据中没有显示原告确切知道转发文章中关于王效力的内容系被捏造,故需要审查原告是否“应当知道”。“应当知道”是对原告主观态度的推测,必须依据各方面的证据材料,综合被传播的信息、行为人的身份、职业、生活经历等多方面的因素,综合评判。首先,被传播的王效力的内容为“王成宝长期欺压群众、为害一方,而他背后的保护伞,横山区委书记王效力的不作为……”、“横山区委书记王效力……充当黑恶势力的保护伞”,是对王效力的涉嫌严重犯罪行为的指控,而公民的犯罪嫌疑需要以国家相关执法部门的职权行为作为调查和认定的前提,原告在不向相关部门核实,且被转发文章中亦无执法部门判定意见的情况下,根据一般法律常识能够认识到此种指控的真实性不可靠。其次,原告是记者,参照《新闻记者证管理办法》第十八条“新闻记者使用新闻记者证从事新闻采访活动,应遵守法律规定和新闻职业道德,确保新闻报道真实、全面、客观、公正,不得编发虚假报道,不得刊播虚假新闻,不得徇私隐匿应报道的新闻事实”对记者职业准则的规定,其应当具有对所传播信息的真实性、客观性更高的认知水平和判断能力,故对被转发文章中对王效力指控的不真实性有更强的辨识能力。虽原告称其转发行为非职务行为,但此节事实对其认知能力并无影响,该抗辩不成立。最后,原告承认其转发文章所用博客账户在其单位注册,该情节同样表明原告通过该账户传播信息有更高的谨慎义务。综上,原告有能力和条件对其转发的涉嫌犯罪的指控进行核实的情况下,而未采用基本的核实手段,可以判定其应当知道该指控不真实。被告横山公安分局依据其在行政处罚程序中搜集的证据作出相同判断合法。

榆林市公安局在接到原告的复议申请后,履行了受理、通知答复、核查等程序,最终作出复议决定并依法送达,经审查该局履行行政复议程序符合法律规定,并无不当,本院予以支持。原告要求撤销被诉复议决定的请求事项缺乏相应依据,本院亦不予支持。

据此,经本院审判委员会讨论决定,依照《中华人民共和国行政诉讼法》第六十九条、第七十九条之规定,判决:驳回原告原建猛的全部诉讼请求。案件受理费50元,由原告原建猛负担。

上诉人原建猛不服上述判决,上诉请求:一、撤销一审判决,并判决撤销被上诉人作出的横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定书和榆公复决〔2019〕11号复议决定书。二、本案诉讼费由原审被告承担。事实与理由:一、一审判决认定事实缺少证据支持。2019年1月25日晚上19点55分,上诉人在浏览微信公众号“城市精彩推荐”网站时发现了题为《“大刀队”横行乡里,区委王效力真的为民效力了吗?》的文章,于是上诉人将该文转载在自己的新浪博客“长安街知事”和“百万庄知事”,后被人点击查看。上诉人并非涉案文章的原创者,只是将网站上已有的文章转载于自己博客之中,并在收藏博客之前已在百度等网站上进行搜索,证实早已被人公开发表,已被转发、传播的文章,是大众所知的信息,对涉案文章的转载已尽到了核实义务,而且北京在线、浙江在线、国内新闻等网站以及《民主与法制》杂志也曾对该文章中所叙述部分事实进行过报道,因此,上诉人在主观方面不具有故意侵害他人名誉的动机,但原审法院根据上诉人是记者身份推断上诉人主观存在故意有违法律常识。法律面前人人平等,法律也并未明文规定记者身份的公民转载收藏文章必须有核实义务,原审法院依据公民身份,适用法律上差别对待是错误的。而且原审判决中已明确认定:“被告关于事实方面的证据中没有显示原告确切知道转发文章中关于王效力的内容系被捏造”,被上诉人作为行政机关,对于该违法行为有举证的法定义务,被上诉人在证据不足的情况下认定上诉人违法并给予以行政处罚显然不符合法律规定,一审法院更不能运用公民身份推断判决被上诉人行政处罚行为合法。二、一审判决适用法律错误。《治安管理处罚法》第四十二条第(二)项规定和《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院关于办理利用信息网络实施诽谤等刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》的捏造事实诽谤他人必须是“明知是捏造的损害他人名誉的事实”,该规定明确了违法行为主观方面必须是故意。被上诉人提供的证据中明显证明上诉人在转发之前在其它网站上查阅有此文章,上诉人对该文章已尽到了核实义务,主观不存在故意侵害他人名誉,也不知道是捏造的虚假事实,对于造成的结果上诉人并未预知到。故意是指主观方面知道,也希望结果的发生。显然上诉人主观方面与客观方面不一致,不构成故意违法。原审法院认定上诉人“应当知道”是对上诉人主观态度的推测。上诉人认为“应当知道”是按照行为的年龄、职业、社会生活经验水平等“本应知道”,对于“本应知道”但实际上确不知道的,至多也只能构成疏忽大意的过失,而非明知的故意。对于行为人本应知道但无充分证据证明其知道的,不应认定为“应当知道”。原审法院只是以上诉人是记者身份认定“知道或应当知道”,并以上诉人在单位注册博客、账号,就推断上诉人有能力和条件对其转发的涉嫌犯罪的文章进行核实的情况下,而未采用基本的核实手段,断定上诉人应当知道所指控不真实是错误的。上诉人不认识王效力,也从未去过陕西省,从地理和人际关系上均不具备基本的核实条件。更何况上诉人只是转发收藏于自己博客中,并不是主观故意散布或传播。对于该文章上诉人主观上确实不知其为虚假,而且被上诉人确无证据证明上诉人确切知道,故不应当认定为“应当知道”。一审法院参照《新闻记者证管理办法》第十八条的规定,但该管理办法适用对象是记者使用记者证从事新闻采访刊播新闻的规定,并末对记者个人以个人名义收藏文章到自己博客行为作具体规定,一审法院明显适用法律不当。榆林市公安局横山分局横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定书和榆林市公安局作出的榆公复决〔2019〕11号行政复议决定书没有法律依据,依照行政诉讼法第七十条第二项的规定,人民法院应当判决撤销被上诉人作出的行政行为。

被上诉人榆林市公安局横山分局辩称:一、一审法院认定事实清楚,证据充分。上诉人原建猛系山西报业集团发展导报新视界周刊记者。2019年1月25日,原建猛在未经核实的情况下,将微信公众号“城市精彩推荐”上的题为《“大刀队”横行乡里,区委王效力真的为民效力了吗?》的文章转载在自己注册使用的新浪博客“长安街知事”并同步推送至其个人微博账号“百万庄知事”,点击量分别为1168次和183次。原建猛作为一名新闻工作者,将未经核实的信息发布在博客和微博账号上进行扩散,给中共横山区委及王效力本人正常工作、生活造成较大影响。二、原建猛明知是未经查证属实的损害他人名誉的事实仍然进行传播,其行为构成诽谤。原建猛转载的题为《“大刀队”横行乡里,区委王效力真的为民效力了吗?》的文章将涉嫌违法犯罪的“大刀队”与横山区委书记王效力联系到一起,以达到博人眼球增加点击量的目的。文章中“王成宝长期欺压群众、为害一方,而他背后的保护伞,横山区委书记王效力的不作为……”;“横山区委书记王效力……充当黑恶势力的保护伞”等内容,是对王效力的涉嫌严重犯罪行为的指控。公民有无犯罪嫌疑需要国家执法部门的职权行为作为调查和认定的前提。在未向有关部门核实,且被转发文章中无执法部门判定意见的情况下,原建猛仅仅是在百度等网站上进行搜索标题为“大刀队”的文章,就当然认为该文章中的内容被人公开发表,已被转发、传播,当然认为该篇文章中的内容是大众所知的信息,将该篇文章转载在自己注册使用的新浪博客和其个人微博账号上。一般的成年大众根据一般法律常识都能认识到文章中对王效力同志指控的真实性不可靠。原建猛作为一名新闻工作者,有对自己发表、转发的信息核查辨认的义务,应当具有对所传播信息的真实性、客观性更高的认知水平和判断能力,故对被转发文章中对王效力指控的不真实性有更强的辨识能力。原建猛在有能力和条件对其转发的涉嫌犯罪的指控进行核实的情况下,未采用基本的核实手段,可以判定其应当知道该指控内容不真实,其转发未经查实的损害他人名誉信息的行为符合《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院关于办理利用信息网络实施诽谤等刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》第一条对《中华人民共和国刑法》第二百四十六条规定的诽谤罪中捏造事实诽谤他人的解释。三、我局办理本案适用法律正确,作出的具体行政处罚适当,公平、公正。2019年1月25日,原建猛将未经核实的不实文章进行转载扩散,其行为涉嫌诽谤。因其违法行为尚未触犯《中国人民共和国刑法》,2019年1月29日,我局根据《中华人民共和国治安管理处罚法》第四十二条第二项之规定对原建猛给予行政拘留八日的处罚,当日送达横山区拘留所执行。综上所述,我局作出横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定,事实清楚,证据确凿充分,适用法律正确,程序合法。一审法院作出驳回上诉人诉讼请求的判决合理合法。请求二审法院依法驳回上诉,维持原判。

被告榆林市公安局辩称:一、上诉人违法行为事实清楚、证据确凿,榆林市公安局横山分局适用法律正确、程序合法、处罚适当,一审法院认定事实清楚、证据充分。二、我局作出行政复议决定程序合法,适用法律法规正确。根据《中华人民共和国行政复议法》第十七条、第二十三条之规定,我局于2019年3月26日受理原建猛不服榆林市公安局横山分局2019年1月29日作出的横公(网安)行罚决字〔2019〕67号行政处罚决定提起的行政复议申请,依法通知榆林市公安局横山分局答复和提交相关材料。根据《中华人民共和国行政复议法》第二十二条之规定,榆林市公安局横山分局将案卷材料和书面答复送往我局后,我局法制支队民警对该案进行阅卷审查,2019年4月28日,法制支队审查后,经市公安局负责人主持召开执法管理委员会议研究,认为榆林市公安局横山分局办理此案认定事实清楚,证据充分,程序合法,适用法律正确,作出维持决定,并依法将行政复议决定书邮寄送达上诉人原建猛。综上,榆林市公安局横山分局作出的行政处罚决定和我局作出的行政复议决定,事实清楚,证据充分,程序合法,适用法律正确,一审判决认定事实清楚,适用法律正确,请求驳回上诉,维持原判。

上诉人原建猛在二审期间提举了网页截图一份,用于证明:确实有案涉事实存在,有普通民众签字按手印确认。上诉人已尽核实义务,应为真实内容。

被上诉人榆林市公安局横山分局对该份证据的质证意见为:截图报道时间看不清楚,能看清楚的部分与上诉人转载文章没有关联性,村民按手印不能证明内容的真实性,真实性应经过官方认可,且新闻记者应当对新闻的真实性去现场核实。对其证明目的不予认可。

被上诉人榆林市公安局对该份证据的质证意见为:对证据的真实性、关联性、证明目的均不予认可。

本院对上述证据认证如下:截图所载内容并非法定有权机关发布,且截图所载内容与上诉人所转载文章的内容不一致,不足以证实上诉人所转载文章内容的真实性,亦不足以证明上诉人已尽核实义务,对其证明目的不予采纳。

二审经审理查明的事实与一审一致,本院予以确认。

本院认为:本案的争议焦点在于上诉人的行为是否构成《中华人民共和国治安管理处罚法》第四十二条第二项规定的捏造事实诽谤他人。对此,参照《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院关于办理利用信息网络实施诽谤等刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》(法释〔2013〕21号)第一条第一项之规定,行为人的行为如具备捏造损害他人名誉的事实,在信息网络上散布这一特征,即可认定为捏造事实诽谤他人。而在信息真实性的判定上,应当由散布者承担必要的证明责任,特别是所散布信息对他人和公共利益可能造成不良影响的情况下,更是如此。这是公民言论自由的边界,也是公民行使监督、批评权利的界限,更是维护他人合法权益、社会稳定及公序良俗所必须。根据本案查明的事实,上诉人于2019年1月25日将微信公众号“城市精彩推荐”上的题为《“大刀队”横行乡里,区委王效力真的为民效力了吗?》的文章转载在自己注册的新浪博客“长安街知事”并同步推送至其个人微博账号“百万庄知事”,点击量达到1300多次。该转载文章指称“王成宝长期欺压群众、为害一方,而他背后的保护伞,横山区委书记王效力的不作为……”;“横山区委书记王效力……充当黑恶势力的保护伞”等情形,上述信息的散布显然会对所涉政府机关及人员的名誉及社会评价造成贬损。然而上诉人在发布上述论断性信息的同时,却并未提供监察机关、审判机关、检察机关等执法部门发布的权威认定予以佐证,在公安机关调查及之后的诉讼过程中,上诉人也未提供据以作出论断的有效证据。在此情况下,其发布的信息难谓真实,其认为自己对所转载内容已尽核实义务的理由亦难以成立,上诉人应当对自己的行为承担相应的不利后果。被上诉人榆林市公安局横山分局基于查明的事实,认定上诉人的行为构成诽谤,进而根据《中华人民共和国治安管理处罚法》第四十二条第二项之规定,对其作出拘留五日的行政处罚,在事实认定、法律适用及量罚幅度方面,均无不当。榆林市公安局复议维持该处罚决定正确。综上,上诉人的诉请缺乏事实根据与法律依据,原审判决驳回上诉人的诉讼请求正确,本院予以维持。据此,依照《中华人民共和国行政诉讼法》第八十九条第一款第一项之规定,判决如下:

驳回上诉,维持原判。

二审案件受理费50元,由上诉人原建猛负担。

本判决为终审判决。

审判长  马玉荣

审判员  王 静

审判员  刘红梅

二〇二〇年五月二十九日

书记员  寇艳艳

 

 

Translation: Huang Xuqin and Wang Jianbing Inciting Subversion Indictment

On June 14, 2024, the Twitter account "Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing 释放雪饼" (@FreeXueBing)  posted a copy of the last two p...