A Chinese journalist who was among 194 people who were arrested for spreading rumours online about the recent stock market crash and deadly blast in Tianjin has reportedly pleaded guilty, China's main state broadcaster reported on Monday.
According to a Xinhua News Agency report, Wang Xiaolu, a journalist from the prestigious business magazine Caijing, was blamed for his article which was published in July, saying the securities regulator was working on a plan for government funds to exit the market.
Following the claims, Wang reportedly confessed that his article about the Chinese stock market was "based on hearsay and his own subjective guesses" that "inflicted huge losses on the country and investors."
"I should not have published a report that heavily and negatively affected the market at such a sensitive time... (I) caused such great losses to the country and to stock investors. I am deeply sorry," he said.
China is trying to revive its stock market which has plunged around 40 percent since mid-June due to concerns over its fragile economy.
The country took several measures to boost its economy, including using state-backed entities to buy stocks and cracking down on allegedly malicious short-selling and other strategies seen as hindering a recovery.
Despite all this efforts from the Chinese authorities, investors have concerns over the health of China's economy and its ability to manage their finances.
Shortly after the accusations against Wang, a right group for Journalists, Reporters Without Borders called for Wang's discharge, describing claims which see him responsible for the stock market crash as “absurd.”
"The accusations against Wang are symptomatic of the Chinese government's desire to control media coverage of share price movements," the group's secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
"Suggesting that a business journalist was responsible for the spectacular fall in share prices is a denial of reality. Blaming the stock market crisis on a lone reporter is beyond absurd," Deloire added.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) quickly rejected the allegations, decrying the story as "irresponsible".
However, Caijing said in a statement that it "defended journalists' rights to do their duty under the law."