A Chinese journalist has gone public with his experiences with the country’s police, claiming that they used torture methods, involved fellow inmates, and threatened longer jail terms and that his wife would leave him if he did not confess.

Journalist Liu Hu told The Japan Times that he was cajoled, deprived of sleep, kept from family and lawyers, threatened with a longer jail term and that Liu’s wife would abandon him, and recruited other inmates to persuade the man to confess. The desired confession was to spreading falsehoods and instigating trouble online.

Liu said that the police work with the Chinese government’s propaganda workers to create and televise confessions in order to sway public perceptions and shame suspects.

Several journalists, social activists and lawyers have been involved in televised confessions, where they have confessed to shameful acts such as hiring prostitutes.

After these confessions are aired, Liu asserted, public support for the accused decreases and less people question the legitimacy of the confessions or the guilt of the accused.

Other accused, such as journalist Gau Yu, have claimed the government has gone so far as to hold their children hostage, blocking access to needed medical attention.

The energies invested by Chinese police in the confessions are significant, according to Liu. He underwent more than 70 interrogations during the first months of his detainment, including two overnight interrogations and one 12 hour interrogation.

Liu suspects there may have been up to 300 staff working on digging up dirt on the man, and they reviewed his work records for the past 10 years and traveled to distant provinces to meet with Liu’s contacts.

In Liu’s case, he was released after almost a year of detainment. He had been assured by his lawyers that his online remarks questioning corrupt officials did not violate Chinese law, and he held out from confessing.

By James Haleavy