October 10, 2014 / 10:54 AM / in 3 years

Germany calls arrest of news assistant in China 'worrying'

China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang congratulates China's Agriculture Minister Han Changfu (not pictured) on his birthday as he sits next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany expressed concern on Friday about the arrest in Beijing last week of a Chinese woman who was working as a news assistant for German weekly Die Zeit and had helped the publication report on protests in Hong Kong.

The comments on the arrest, by deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz, came as visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang began talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two are scheduled to hold a joint news conference at 1310 GMT.

“The arrest of the worker for a big German weekly newspaper is worrying news for the German government of course and the government expects the accusations to be cleared up quickly,” Wirtz told a news conference in response to a question about the arrest.

The Hamburg-based weekly reported on Thursday that Zhang Miao, a 40-year-old Chinese woman assisting the newspaper’s main correspondent in China, had been detained on Oct. 2 and accused of inciting public discontent.

Martin Schaefer, a spokesman for the German foreign ministry, told the news conference that the German embassy in Beijing was in touch with Chinese authorities on the matter with the goal of clearing up the accusations and trying to ensure Zhang would be able to continue her work.

Reporting by Stephen Brown; Writing by Noah Barkin

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