Beijing, March 31 (IANS) In a massive nationwide crackdown on internet crime, Chinese police Saturday said they have arrested 1,065 suspects and deleted more than 208,000 "harmful" online messages. Six people were detained Friday for "disseminating" online rumours about a military coup in the capital.
Operators of 3,117 websites have received warnings, Xinhua quoted a spokesman from the Beijing police's cyber-security department.
At least 70 internet companies that defied the warnings have received "administrative punishments", including forced closure.
A total of 16 websites were shut down and six people detained in China Friday for "fabricating" and "disseminating" online rumours about the coup.
The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) and Beijing police said the websites spread rumours of "military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing", that were fabricated by "some lawless people".
The campaign dubbed "Spring Breeze" was launched Feb 14. It targeted the dissemination of information related to smuggling of firearms, drugs and toxic chemicals as well as sale of human organs, counterfeit certificates and invoices and trade in personal information.
The spokesman urged internet users to actively oppose the spread of harmful information.
Two popular Chinese microblogging sites have suspended comment functions after they were "punished" for allowing the rumours about the military coup in Beijing.
A SIIO spokesman said the two sites -- weibo.com and t.qq.com -- have been "punished accordingly" by internet administration authorities in Beijing and Guangdong respectively.
The t.qq.com put up an online announcement Saturday that it has decided to suspend comment function from March 31 to April 3 to clean up the rumours and other illegal information spread through the microblog.
The weibo.com also released an announcement saying it would suspend comment function during the same period.
According to RIA Novosti, rumours of a possible coup attempt began to circulate on the internet after top leadership contender Bo Xilai was sacked as head of the mega city of Chongqing earlier this month.
Bo's dimissal came amid allegations that his former ally and police chief had tried to seek asylum at a US consulate.
State-owned People's Daily said in a commentary: "Internet rumours and lies packaged as 'facts' will turn conjecture into 'reality', stir up trouble online and disturb people's minds. If allowed to run amok, they will seriously disrupt social order, affect social stability and harm social integrity."
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