The author of a popular novel, deemed "pornographic" by police, was released on bail in south China's Guangdong Province Wednesday, after his detainment caused an uproar.
Yuan Lei, 29, a Chinese language teacher at Beijiao Middle School in Shunde of Foshan City in Guangdong, published "In Dongguan," a novel about prostitution in the bathhouses of Dongguan City in the province, in a series of posts at tianya.com, one of China's most popular online forums, from August 2009 until February 2010.
The novel attracted over 2 million hits, but was alleged by police as pornography. Yuan was detained by Dongguan police, who do not have jurisdiction over Shunde as argued by some netizens, on Sunday.
A policeman from Dongguan's Houjie Township confirmed that Yuan was released on bail Wednesday night.
"Dongguan police concluded the novel is pornographic. The judgement was recognized by the provincial public security department. But we faced great pressure from the media, especially the Internet," said the policeman, who declined to be named.
Yuan's wife Ruan Fang denied the novel is pornographic.
"The novel is not porn. It only criticizes reality," Ruan said, adding that her husband is a man of high integrity who never visits brothels or associates with prostitutes.
Under Chinese criminal law, producing and disseminating pornographic material is subject to a jail term of up to 10 years in serious cases.
But "literary and artistic work that contains erotic elements shall not be deemed pornographic," according to the law.
Yuan's detention Sunday prompted online outrage, with netizen's writing numerous comments that accused police of abusing their powers and violating Yuan's lawful rights.
Many of the netizens believed Yuan was detained because his novel exposed an unsavory aspect of Dongguan.
"The detention is a clumsy denial and further harms Dongguan's reputation," Internet user WUPOZHONGYUAN wrote.
"The novel itself was not that good. But I have to support Yuan, because writers have the right to write," netizen Jerry wrote.
After returning to his home in Shunde of Foshan City, Yuan called on Internet users to stop attacking the police in a post at tianya.com.
"The officers were only doing their job. They treated me fairly," he wrote.
"Thank God I can be with my daughter again. I hope there can be more tolerance of literary works."