A Chinese employee at Bloomberg News, Haze Fan, was released on bail in January, according to the Chinese embassy in Washington, more than a year after plainclothes security officials detained her.
Ms. Fan’s case is still under investigation, but she is on bail pending trial, the Chinese embassy said in a statement dated May 6.
Bloomberg News said on Tuesday it had been unable to reach Ms. Fan since her release. It had previously reported that Ms. Fan was last seen on Dec. 7, 2020, being escorted from her apartment, and that she had been detained on potential national security violations.
News of her detention sent reverberations through the foreign journalist community in China, where news media organizations have been harassed and foreign reporters expelled amid an increasingly hostile reporting environment. Reporters face “unprecedented hurdles covering China as a result of the government’s efforts to block and discredit independent reporting,” the Beijing-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said in its annual report in January.
Ms. Fan was taken away by investigators not long after she had been in touch with a Bloomberg editor, according to a Bloomberg article in 2020. The company has previously said it did not know why Ms. Fan had been detained, but that it had sought information about her whereabouts from both the Chinese government and China’s embassy in Washington.
Bloomberg said it was made aware of the embassy statement over the weekend.
In that statement, the embassy said Ms. Fan had been formally arrested in July 2021 on suspicion of committing crimes endangering national security, adding that her “legitimate rights and interests have been fully protected.”
John Micklethwait, editor in chief of Bloomberg, said he was “encouraged” to hear that Ms. Fan was out on bail. “She is a much valued member of our Beijing bureau — and we will continue to do everything possible to help her and her family.” He did not address whether Bloomberg had been notified in January of her release.
Ms. Fan is a Chinese citizen who joined Bloomberg in 2017 after working for several other news organizations, including CNBC, CBS and Reuters. Chinese nationals are banned from doing independent reporting for foreign media in China and are allowed to work only as research assistants.
Ms. Fan’s case “has nothing to do with her status as a foreign media employee,” the embassy said in the strongly worded May 6 statement, which was a response to an advertisement in The Washington Post for World Press Freedom Day that featured Ms. Fan.
An estimated 127 journalists are currently in detention in China, according to a report from Reporters Without Borders.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.