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Email attributed to Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai raises concerns

The boss of the WTA, which runs the women’s professional tennis circuit, expressed his ” worry “ regarding the safety of Peng Shuai and claimed to doubt official information from China on the champion.

The tennis world has not heard from the player since she accused a former senior Chinese official in early November of forcing her to have sex. Steve Simon wrote in a statement released Wednesday evening:

“The press release published today [mercredi] by Chinese official media regarding Peng Shuai only increases my concern for his safety and location. (…) I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received and that she could mean the words attributed to her. “

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The Chinese state channel CGTN unveiled, Wednesday evening, November 17 on Twitter, the screenshot of an email attributed to Peng Shuai, that the Chinese player would have sent to the management of the WTA, without the authenticity of the message can be confirmed.

Doubts about the authenticity of the message

The comments in the originally suspicious message contradict statements made by Peng Shuai, who accused a former deputy prime minister of coercing her into sex three years ago. The player would state in this message:

“The information, especially regarding the sexual assault charge, is false. I am neither missing nor in danger. I was just resting at home, everything is fine. Thanks again for hearing from me. “

The content of this message raised doubts as to its authenticity: Twitter users noted that a cursor was visible on the message broadcast by CGTN, an inexplicable phenomenon for a screenshot.

In the past, the Communist regime has been accused of broadcasting forced confessions of suspects on the public media. The same channel CGTN had its license withdrawn in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the year for having broadcast a “confession” attributed to a British citizen arrested in China.

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“Peng Shuai’s latest statements, published by public media, should not be taken at face value,” said William Nee, of the Association for Human Rights Defenders in China. “The Chinese government has a long history of arbitrarily detaining people involved in controversial cases, preventing them from speaking freely and forcing them to make public statements,” he said in a statement. “It is up to the Chinese government to prove that she is not in detention. “

Zhang Gaoli never reacted publicly

The head of the international women’s tennis organization observed that Peng Shuai had “Shows incredible courage in describing sexual violence she says she was the victim of by a former senior Chinese leader.” He also claims a “Independent and verifiable evidence” that the player is safe. “I tried several times to reach her by different means of communication, in vain”, he emphasizes, claiming that Peng Shuai “Be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation of any kind”.

The 35-year-old former doubles world number one accused former deputy prime minister Zhang Gaoli, who was one of China’s seven most powerful politicians from 2013 to 2018 , to have forced her to have sex before making her his mistress.

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This accusation was briefly posted on November 2 on the player’s official Weibo account (a Chinese equivalent of Twitter). China very quickly blocked any reference to this message, which Agence France-Presse was unable to confirm had been written by it.

Since then, the player has not communicated or made a public appearance and Zhang Gaoli has never publicly reacted to the accusations. Questioned several times, the spokespersons of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said to ignore everything about this affair and refused to comment, arguing that it was not a diplomatic file. Any reference to this affair also remains censored on the Chinese Internet.

The World with AFP

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