While we luxuriate in niceties about, say, whether pornography is an inviolable exercise of the right to free speech or whether the lack of an umpteenth right of appeal infringes a litigant’s right to a fair trial, it is easy to forget that in some countries even the most basic freedoms do not yet exist.

A blogging journalist called Hao Wu has been in a Chinese jail, without charge, since 22 February. The crime of which he is suspected is a secret and not even his family have been told why he is being kept in custody. Nor have they been permitted contact with him since 16 March. I wonder if we would know about him at all if he were not a blogger and a journalist, or whether it is only his profile and access to publicity that make his case a call for action?

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