Annual Prison Census 2008: China
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||4 December 2008|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2008: China, 4 December 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/494a4025a.html [accessed 18 September 2014]|
Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2008
Lin Youping, Ziyou Bao
IMPRISONED: July 1983
Lin is the longest-serving journalist in CPJ's worldwide census. Along with Chen Renjie and Chen Biling, he wrote and published a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report) in the early days of China's economic reform. They distributed 300 copies of the pamphlet in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 1982.
Police arrested them the following July and accused them of making contact with Taiwanese spy groups and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official government records of the case, the men used "propaganda and incitement to encourage the overthrow of the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist system."
In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
No information has been available on the status of Lin or Chen Renjie for several years. Twenty-five years later, in June 2008, the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation reported that Chen Renjie was released shortly after his sentence was commuted in January 1998, but found no equivalent information on Lin in prison records in Fujian. "Only continued inquiry will reveal his fate for certain," the group reported.
Xu Zerong, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 24, 2000
Xu is serving a 13-year prison term on charges of "leaking state secrets" through his academic work on military history and "economic crimes" related to unauthorized publishing on foreign policy issues. Some observers believed that his jailing may have been related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) magazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for a Malaysian insurgency in the 1950s and 1960s.
Xu, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, was arrested in Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 18 months until his trial. He was tried by Shenzhen Intermediate Court in December 2001, and his appeal to Guangzhou Higher People's Court was rejected in 2002.
According to court documents, the "state secrets" charges against Xu stemmed from his use of historical documents for academic research. Xu, also known as David Tsui, was an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. In 1992, he photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea. The verdict stated that the Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army of Guangzhou later determined that the books had not been declassified 40 years after being labeled "top secret." After his arrest, St. Antony's College at Oxford University, where Xu earned his doctorate and wrote his dissertation on the Korean War, was active in researching his case and calling for his release.
Xu was also the co-founder of a Hong Kong-based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). The "economic crimes" charges were related to the "illegal publication" of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan.
He was arrested just days before an article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue of Yazhou Zhoukan, in which he accused the Communist Party of hypocrisy when it condemned countries that criticized China's human rights record.
Xu began his sentence in Dongguan Prison, outside of Guangzhou, but was later transferred to Guangzhou Prison, where it was easier for his family to visit him. He has been spared from hard labor and has been allowed to read, research, and teach English in prison, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation. He has suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes.
In 2006, Xu's family members were informed that he had received a nine-month reduction in his sentence, according to Dui Hua. He was given a further 10-month reduction in April, and is scheduled for release in 2011, the group reported.
Jin Haike, freelance
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan
Zhang Honghai, freelance
IMPRISONED: March 13, 2001
The four members of an informal discussion group called Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group) were detained and accused of "subverting state authority." Prosecutors cited online articles and essays on political and social reform as proof of their intent to overthrow the Communist Party leadership.
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were charged with subversion on April 20, 2001. More than two years later, on May 29, 2003, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Xu and Jin to 10 years in prison each, while Yang and Zhang each received sentences of eight years. Each of the sentences was to be followed by two years' deprivation of political rights.
The four young men were students and recent university graduates who gathered occasionally to discuss politics and reform with four others, including an informant for the Ministry of State Security. The most prominent in the group, Yang, posted his own thoughts and reports by the others on topics such as rural poverty and village elections, along with essays advocating democratic reform, on the popular Web site Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas). Xu was a reporter at Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer's Daily). Public security agents pressured the newspaper to fire him before his arrest, a friend, Wang Ying, reported online.
The court cited a handful of articles, including Jin's "Be a New Citizen, Reform China" and Yang's "Choose Liberalism," in the 2003 verdict against them. The Beijing Higher People's Court rejected their appeal without hearing defense witnesses. Three of the witnesses who testified against the four men were fellow members of the group who later tried to retract their testimonies.
Yang, Xu, and Jin were imprisoned at Beijing's No. 2 Prison. Yang's wife, Lu Kun, who was also initially detained and questioned, was unable to visit him for four years after his imprisonment, she told reporters in 2005.
Tao Haidong, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 9, 2002
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and charged with "incitement to subvert state power." According to the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published his work, Tao's articles focused on political and legal reform. In one essay, titled "Strategies for China's Social Reforms," Tao wrote that "the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society should unite to push forward China's freedom and democratic development or else stand condemned through the ages."
Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of re-education through labor" in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, according to the U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and his work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to seven years in prison. His appeal to the XUAR Higher Court later in 2003 was rejected. Now held in Changji, Tao was scheduled for release in July 2009. In a September 2008 letter, he told his family that he was suffering from a heart-related health problem.
Abdulghani Memetemin, East Turkistan Information Center
IMPRISONED: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang, on charges of "leaking state secrets."
In June 2003, the Kashgar Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against Memetemin, including translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for ETIC. The court also accused him of recruiting additional reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial.
Huang Jinqiu, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu province. Huang's family was not officially notified of his arrest for more than three months. On September 27, 2004, the Changzhou Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison on charges of "subversion of state authority," plus four years' deprivation of political rights. The sentence was unusually harsh and appeared linked to his intention to form an opposition party.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong province, as well as in Guangdong province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, Huang began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name Qing Shuijun. He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name Huang Jin. Huang's writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. Huang told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writing, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled "Me and My Public Security Friends," Huang described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Huang's appeal was rejected in December 2004. He was given a 22-month sentence reduction in July 2007, according to the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation.
Huang's lawyer told CPJ in early 2005 that the journalist had been mistreated in prison and was in poor health. In 2008, his family told CPJ that both his health and treatment had improved. He suffered from arthritis, according to a family member. Huang was serving his sentence in Pukou Prison, near Nanjing.
Kong Youping, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written articles online that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government's "counterrevolutionary" ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong's essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, "In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing." Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the China Democracy Party (CDP), an opposition party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with codefendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being vice chairman of the CDP branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People's Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years' deprivation of political rights.
Ning received a 12-year sentence.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. Kong received a sentence reduction to 10 years in his appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Shi Tao, freelance
IMPRISONED: November 24, 2004
Shi, the former editorial director at the Changsha-based newspaper Dangdai Shang Bao, was detained near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi province.
He was formally arrested and charged with "providing state secrets to foreigners" by sending an e-mail on his Yahoo account to the U.S.-based editor of the Web site Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In the anonymous e-mail sent several months before his arrest, Shi transcribed his notes from local propaganda department instructions to his newspaper, which included directives on coverage of the Falun Gong and the upcoming 15th anniversary of the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets later certified the contents of the e-mail as classified.
On April 27, 2005, the Changsha Intermediate People's Court found Shi guilty and sentenced him to a 10-year prison term. In June of that year, Hunan Province High People's Court rejected his appeal without granting a hearing.
Court documents in the case revealed that Yahoo had supplied information to Chinese authorities that helped them identify Shi as the sender of the e-mail. Yahoo's participation in the identification of Shi and other jailed dissidents raised questions about the role that international Internet companies played in the repression of online speech in China and elsewhere.
In November 2005, CPJ honored Shi in absentia with its annual International Press Freedom Award for his courage in defending the ideals of free expression. During a visit to CPJ's offices in New York in June 2007, Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, highlighted the 2008 Beijing Olympics as an opportunity for the international community to renew calls for her son's release. In November of that year, members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee rebuked Yahoo executives for their role in the case and for wrongly testifying in earlier hearings that the company did not know the Chinese government's intentions when it sought Shi's account information.
Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft later joined with human rights organizations, academics, and investors to form the Global Network Initiative, which in October adopted a set of principles to protect online privacy and free expression.
Zheng Yichun, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 3, 2004
Zheng, a former professor, was a regular contributor to overseas news Web sites, including the U.S.-based Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned religious movement Falun Gong. Zheng wrote a series of editorials that directly criticized the Communist Party and its control of the media.
Because of police warnings, Zheng's family remained silent about his detention in Yingkou,Liaoning province, until state media reported that he had been arrested on suspicion of inciting subversion. Zheng was initially tried by the Yingkou Intermediate People's Court on April 26, 2005. No verdict was announced, and on July 21 he was tried again on the same charges. As in the April 26 trial, proceedings lasted just three hours. Though officially "open" to the public, the courtroom was closed to all observers except close family members and government officials. Zheng's supporters and a journalist were prevented from entering, according to a local source.
Prosecutors cited dozens of articles written by the journalist, and listed the titles of several essays in which he called for political reform, increased capitalism in China, and an end to the practice of imprisoning writers. On September 20, the court sentenced Zheng to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years' deprivation of political rights.
Sources familiar with the case believe that Zheng's harsh sentence may be linked to Chinese leaders' objections to the Epoch Times series "Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party," which called the Chinese Communist Party an "evil cult" with a "history of killings" and predicted its demise.
Zheng is diabetic, and his health suffered a decline after his imprisonment. After his first appeal was rejected, he intended to pursue an appeal in a higher court, but his defense lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was himself imprisoned in August 2006. Zheng's family was unable to find another lawyer willing to take the case.
In summer 2008, prison authorities at Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning informed Zheng's family that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage, and had received urgent treatment in prison. No lawyer agreed to represent Zheng to help him apply for medical parole, according to Zheng Xiaochun, Zheng's brother, who spoke with CPJ by telephone. He praised the prison guards' swift action in providing treatment for his brother. He said Zheng Yichun was recovering slowly.
Zhang Lin, freelance
IMPRISONED: January 29, 2005
Zhang, a freelance writer and political essayist who made a living by writing for banned overseas Web sites, was convicted of "inciting subversion of state power" and misrepresenting national authorities in his articles and in a radio interview.
Zhang, who spent years in jail in the 1990s for his pro-democracy activism and for organizing a labor union, was detained at a train station near his home in Bengbu, in central China's Anhui province. Police apprehended him as he was returning from Beijing, where he had traveled to mourn the death of ousted Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang. He was initially accused of "disturbing public order," but police formally arrested him on charges of inciting subversion after confiscating the computer he was using.
The Bengbu Intermediate People's Court tried him on June 21, 2005, in proceedings that lasted five hours, his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ. The defense argued that the six articles and one interview cited by the prosecution were protected free expression.
Zhang's wife told reporters that his imprisonment was connected to essays he wrote about protests by unemployed workers and official scandals. On July 28, 2005, the court convicted Zhang and sentenced him to five years in prison.
For 28 days in September 2005, Zhang waged a hunger strike to protest his unjust sentence and the harsh conditions at Bengbu No. 1 Detention Center. Officials there subjected him to long hours of forced labor and refused to allow him to read newspapers or other material, according to his lawyer. During his hunger strike, he was fed through his nose. He was hospitalized briefly before returning to the detention center.
Zhang's appeals were rejected without a hearing, and he was moved to Nanjiao Prison in Hefei City, Anhui province. Zhang's wife told CPJ that his health has suffered during his imprisonment. The couple exchange letters that are sometimes delayed for up to two months, she said. They have two children.
Yang Tongyan (Yang Tianshui), freelance
IMPRISONED: December 23, 2005
Yang, commonly known by his pen name Yang Tianshui, was detained along with a friend in Nanjing, eastern China. He was tried on charges of "subverting state authority," and on May 17, 2006, the Zhenjiang Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
Yang was a well-known writer and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He was a frequent contributor to U.S.-based Web sites banned in China, including Boxun News and Epoch Times. He often wrote critically about the ruling Communist Party, and he advocated the release of Internet writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin.
According to the verdict in Yang's case, which was translated into English by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation, the harsh sentence against him was related to a fictitious online election, established by overseas Chinese citizens, for a "democratic Chinese transitional government." Yang's colleagues say that without his prior knowledge, he was elected "secretariat" of the fictional government. Yang later wrote an article in Epoch Times in support of the model.
Prosecutors also accused Yang of transferring money from overseas to Wang Wenjiang, who had been convicted of endangering state security. Yang's defense lawyer argued that this money was humanitarian assistance to the family of a jailed dissident and should not have constituted a criminal act.
Believing that the proceedings were fundamentally unjust, Yang did not appeal. Yang had already spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the military crackdown on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
In June, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Yang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Guo Qizhen.
In April, PEN American Center announced that Yang was a recipient of the 2008 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. A relative told CPJ in October 2008 that they had not received a letter from him in two months.
Guo Qizhen, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 12, 2006
Guo was detained as he prepared to join a hunger strike by the lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was later jailed. Guo was formally arrested on charges related to his prolific writing for U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) and Epoch Times.
The Cangzhou Intermediate People's Court tried Guo on charges of "inciting subversion of state authority" on September 12, 2006. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison, plus an additional three years' deprivation of political rights.
In the case presented to the prosecutor on June 16, 2006, the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau cited several online essays as proof of Guo's crimes, including one titled "Letting some of the people first get rich while others cannot make a living," in which he accused the Communist Party government of using its policies to support an "autocratic" and "despotic" regime. Guo was critical of corruption and widespread poverty in the country.
In his defense, Guo argued that his criticism of the Communist Party was protected by the Chinese constitution. In March 2007, an appeals court upheld Guo's conviction.
Three months later, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Guo's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Zhang Jianhong and Yang Tongyan.
Guo is married and has a teenage son. Guo's wife, Zhao Changqing, told CPJ in April 2008 that she had been unable to visit her husband due to the high cost of traveling to the prison. She confirmed that he had suffered beatings that led to a permanent leg injury. Guo also complained of high blood pressure and chest pains.
Zhang Jianhong, freelance
IMPRISONED: September 6, 2006
The founder and editor of the popular news and literary Web site Aiqinhai (Aegean Sea) was taken from his home in Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. In October 2006, he was formally arrested on charges of "inciting subversion." He was sentenced to six years in prison by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in March 2007, followed by one year's deprivation of political rights.
Authorities did not clarify their allegations against Zhang, but supporters believed they were linked to online articles critical of government actions. An editorial he wrote two days before his detention called attention to international organizations' criticism of the government's human rights record, and in particular, the poor treatment of journalists and their sources two years before the start of the Olympics. Zhang referred to the situation as "Olympicgate."
Zhang was an author, screenwriter, and reporter who served a year and a half of "re-education through labor" in 1989 on counterrevolutionary charges for his writing in support of protesters. He was dismissed from a position in the local writers association and began working as a freelance writer.
His Web site Aiqinhai was closed in March 2006 for unauthorized posting of international and domestic news. He had also been a contributor to several U.S.-based Chinese-language Web sites, including Boxun News, the pro-democracy forum Minzhu Luntan, and Epoch Times.
In September 2007, Shandong provincial authorities refused to renew the law license of Zhang's lawyer, press freedom advocate Li Jianqiang, who also represented imprisoned journalists Guo Qizhen and Yang Tongyan.
Zhang's health deteriorated significantly during his time in jail; he was in the prison hospital in the provincial capital of Hangzhou for a year, according to his wife. He suffered from a debilitating disease affecting the nervous system and was unable to perform basic tasks without help. Zhang lacked adequate medical care in the prison system, according to his wife, Dong Min, who spoke with CPJ by telephone in October 2008. Appeals for parole on medical grounds were not granted. His scheduled release date is September 2012.
Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong), freelance
IMPRISONED: September 14, 2006
Yang Maodong, commonly known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was a prolific writer, activist, and legal analyst for the Beijing-based Shengzhe law firm. Police detained him in September 2006 after he reported and gave advice on a number of sensitive political cases challenging the local government in his home province of Guangdong.
He was detained for three months in 2005 for "sending news overseas" and disturbing public order after he reported on attempts by villagers in Taishi village, Guangdong, to oust a village chief. He was eventually released without prosecution. Yang remained vocal on behalf of rights defenders, giving repeated interviews to foreign journalists. A police beating he sustained in February 2006 prompted a well-known human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, to stage a high-profile hunger strike. Police in Beijing detained Yang for two days that February after he protested several government actions, including the closure of the popular Yunnan bulletin board, where he had posted information about the Taishi village case.
His September 2006 arrest was for "illegal business activity," international news reports said. After a 15-month pretrial detention, a court convicted him for illegally publishing a magazine in 2001, according to U.S.-based advocacy groups. One of a series of magazines Yang published since the 1990s, Political Earthquake in Shenyang, exposed one of the largest official graft cases in China's history in Shenyang, Liaoning province, according to the Dui Hua Foundation. CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Jiang Weiping spent five years in prison for reporting on the same case for a magazine in Hong Kong. Yang's magazine had been published without authorization; police interrogated Yang's assistant and confiscated funds in 2001, but the case attracted no further punitive measures until Yang became involved in activism.
Yang's defense team from the Mo Shaoping law firm in Beijing argued that a five-year limit for prosecuting illegal publishing had expired by the time of Yang's trial, according to the Dui Hua Foundation, which published the defense statement in 2008. But Yang was sentenced to five years in prison.
Yang has gone on hunger strike several times to protest ill treatment by authorities in Meizhou Prison in Guangdong. He was brutally force-fed on at least one of these occasions and remained in poor health, according to the advocacy group Human Rights in China (HRIC). The group said his treatment in the detention center before his trial was so aggressive that he attempted suicide. Police subjected him to round-the-clock interrogation for 13 days, HRIC said, and administered electric shocks. The group said his family had been persecuted since his imprisonment. His wife was laid off and his two children were held back in school in retribution for Yang's work, HRIC said.
Sun Lin, Boxun News
IMPRISONED: May 30, 2007
Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested along with his wife, He Fang, on May 30, 2007, according to the U.S.-based Web site Boxun News. Sun had previously documented harassment by authorities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as a result of his audio, video, and print reports for the banned Chinese-language news site. Boxun News said authorities confiscated a computer and video equipment from the couple at the time of their arrest.
Sun was accused in the arrest warrant of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1, 2007, said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He in June, but the couple were later denied visits from legal counsel and family members, according to a Boxun News report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
A four-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons and assembling a disorderly crowd was delivered on June 30, 2008, in a hearing closed to Sun's lawyers and family, according to The Associated Press.
Witness testimony about Sun's possession of weapons was contradictory, according to news reports. The disorderly crowd charge was based on an incident in 2004, three years prior to his arrest. Police accused Sun of disturbing the peace while aiding people evicted from their homes, but Sun claimed he broke no laws.
Sun's wife, He, was also given a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison on similar charges, according to Sun's defense lawyer Mo Shaoping. She was released and allowed to return home soon after the hearing. The couple have a 12-year-old daughter.
Prison authorities transferred Sun to Jiangsu province's Pukou Prison in September 2008, according to a report published by Boxun News. The report said Nanjing authorities refused to return the confiscated equipment. Since seeking a sentence reduction would involve admitting guilt, Sun has resolved to serve the time in full, despite being badly treated by prison guards, according to the report.
Ma Shiping, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 16, 2007
Qi Chonghuai, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 25, 2007
Qi and Ma criticized a local official in Shandong province in an article published June 8, 2007, on the Web site of the U.S.-based Epoch Times, according to Qi's lawyer, Li Xiongbing. On June 14, the two posted photographs on Xinhua's anticorruption Web forum showing a luxurious government building in the city of Tengzhou.
Police in Tengzhou detained Ma on June 16 on charges of carrying a false press card. Qi, a journalist of 13 years, was arrested in his home in Jinan, the provincial capital, and charged with fraud and extortion, Li said. Qi was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on May 13, 2008.
Qi was accused of taking money from local officials while reporting several stories, a charge he denied. The people from whom Qi was accused of extorting money were local officials threatened by his reporting, Li said. Qi told his lawyer and his wife, Jiao, that police beat him during questioning on August 13, 2007, and again during a break in his trial.
Qi was being held in Tengzhou Prison, a four-hour trip from his family's home, which limits visits, Jiao Xia told CPJ in October 2008. She had been able to visit him in September and reported no evident complaints.
Ma, a freelance photographer, had local media affiliations. Unconfirmed online reports said that he was sentenced in late 2007 to one and a half years in prison. Ma's lawyer did not return phone calls.
Lü Gengsong, freelance
IMPRISONED: August 24, 2007
The Public Security Bureau in Hangzhou, the capital of eastern Zhejiang province, charged Lü with "inciting subversion of state power," according to human rights groups and news reports. Officials also searched his home and confiscated his computer hard drive and files soon after his detention in August 2007. Police did not provide his wife, Wang, with notification of his formal arrest for more than a month.
The detention was connected to Lü's articles on corruption, land expropriation, organized crime, and human rights abuses, which were published on overseas Web sites. Police told his wife his writings had "attacked the Communist Party," she told CPJ. The day before his arrest, Lü reported on the trial and two-year sentence of housing rights activist Yang Yunbiao. Lü, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, was the author of the 2000 book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, which was published in Hong Kong.
Following a closed-door, one-day trial on January 22, 2008, at the Intermediate People's Court in Hangzhou, Lü was found guilty of subversion. The court handed down a four-year jail term during a hearing on February 5, 2008. Lü's wife, Wang Xue'e, told CPJ in October 2008 that her husband was being held in Xijiao Prison in Hangzhou, where she had regular visitation rights.
Hu Jia, freelance
IMPRISONED: December 27, 2007
Police charged Hu, a prominent human rights activist and essayist, with "incitement to subvert state power" based on six online commentaries and two interviews with foreign media in which he criticized the Communist Party. On April 3, 2008, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He spent his 35th birthday behind bars on July 25, according to his wife's Web site.
Hu had advocated for AIDS patients, defended the rights of farmers, and promoted environmental protection. His writings, which appeared on his blog, criticized the Communist Party's human rights record, called for democratic reform, and condemned government corruption. They included an open letter to the international community about China's failure to fulfill pledges to improve human rights before the 2008 Olympics. He frequently provided information to other activists and foreign media to highlight rights abuses in China.
Hu's wife, human rights activist Zeng Jinyan, and infant daughter have been confined to their home under police surveillance, according to news reports.
Zeng applied in April 2008 for medical parole for her husband, who suffered from chronic liver disease, but the request was turned down, according to updates posted on her blog. On visits to Hu, she learned that prison guards had confiscated letters the couple had tried to exchange. He was not allowed to make phone calls to his home.
On August 8, the day of the Olympics opening ceremony and one day after a visit to Hu in his Tianjin prison, Zeng was taken to the city of Dalian, Liaoning province, and only allowed to return to her Beijing home after 16 days. She said she had no contact with the outside world during this period but did not provide further information about the incident in the account she posted on her blog. Human rights groups and news agencies speculated that authorities were trying to prevent foreign journalists from seeking her out for comment during the Games.
Hu raised human rights issues in jail, prompting security officials in September to threaten to curtail Zeng's visitation rights. In October, he was transferred to the Beijing Municipal Prison, according to Zeng's blog.
The European Parliament awarded Hu a prestigious human rights accolade, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, on October 23. The Chinese ambassador to the European Union warned that the prize would "bring serious damage to China-EU relations," according to The Associated Press.
Dhondup Wangchen, Filming for Tibet
IMPRISONED: March 26, 2008
Police in Tongde, Qinghai province, arrested Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker, shortly after he sent footage filmed in Tibet to colleagues, according to the production company, Filming for Tibet. A 25-minute film titled "Jigdrel" (Leaving Fear Behind) was produced from the tapes. Wangchen's assistant, Jigme Gyatso, was also arrested in March but later released, Filming for Tibet said.
Filming for Tibet was founded in Switzerland, specifically to produce the documentary. It was founded by Gyaljong Tsetrin, a relative of Wangchen, who left Tibet in 2002 but maintained contact with people there. Tsetrin told CPJ that he had spoken to Wangchen on March 25, but that he had lost contact after that. He learned of the detention only later, after speaking by telephone with relatives.
Tsetrin said he unexpectedly received a call from Wangchen on July 13. Wangchen told him that he had been held in Ershilipu Detention Center in Qinghai's provincial capital, Xining, before being transferred to informal detention in a hotel in the same city. He did not call again, according to Tsetrin, and his whereabouts were unknown until August, when guards at the Ershilipu Detention Center confirmed to a family member that he was once again being held there.
Dechen Pemba, a British Tibetan who helped publicize the Filming for Tibet project, provided CPJ with a report about the detentions and biographical information about the filmmakers. The report cited Wangchen's brother-in-law, who was not named. Authorities refused the brother-in-law access to the Ershilipu Detention Center, but they confirmed that Wangchen was being held there, according to the report. Kate Saunders, the U.K.-based spokeswoman for International Campaign for Tibet, told CPJ that her group had confirmed the detention as well.
Tsetrin told CPJ that Wangchen's assistant, Gyatso, was also arrested on March 23. Gyatso was released on October 15 and returned to his monastery, where he described having been brutally beaten by interrogators during his seven months in detention, according to an October 19 statement by Filming in Tibet.
The arrests were first publicized when the documentary was launched in August. Reuters reported that "Leaving Fear Behind" was released before a small group of foreign reporters in a hotel room in Beijing on August 6. A second screening was interrupted by the hotel management, Reuters said.
Wangchen was born in Qinghai but moved to Lhasa as a young man, according to his biography. He had recently relocated with his wife, Lhamo Tso, and four children to Dharamsala, India, before returning to Tibet to begin filming, according to a report published in October by the South China Morning Post. Lhamo told CPJ by telephone that she did not know where her husband was being held and had not received official notification of his detention.
Filming for the documentary was completed shortly before peaceful protests against Chinese rule of Tibet deteriorated into riots in Lhasa and in Tibetan areas of China in March. The filmmakers had gone to Tibet to ask ordinary people about their lives under Chinese rule in the run-up to the Olympics.
Chen Daojun, freelance
IMPRISONED: May 9, 2008
Police arrested Chen on May 9, in Sichuan province, shortly after he had been involved in a "strolling" non-violent protest against a proposed petrochemical plant in Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, according to English and Chinese-language news reports.
On November 21, Chen was found guilty of inciting subversion against the state, according to international news reports. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Prosecutors introduced three articles by Chen on political issues to demonstrate a purportedly antigovernment stance, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. In one piece, an article for the Hong Kong-based political magazine Zheng Ming, Chen portrayed antigovernment protests in Tibet in a positive light. That article, first published in April, was reposted on overseas Web sites. Chen also published an online article objecting to Chengdu project, but it was not among the articles cited by the prosecution.
Zeng Hongling, freelance
IMPRISONED: June 9, 2008
Police arrested Zeng, an Internet writer, on June 9 and provided her family with official notice that she was detained on a charge of illegally providing information overseas, according to the Chinese Web site 6-4tianwang and the Independent Chinese PEN Center.
Zeng's home in Mianyang, northwest Sichuan, was damaged by the May 12 earthquake, according to Zhang Yu of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. She wrote three articles about her experiences in connection with the disaster, which included criticism of Mianyang authorities, and e-mailed them to overseas Chinese-language Web sites in May. They were circulated to several sites, including the U.S.-based China Information Center which published them under the pen name Shan Shan, according to a statement posted on the site.
One of the essays discussed a popular point of online criticism: that a Mianyang official, Tan Li, appeared to be smiling broadly while touring scenes of destruction after the quake. It was not clear why Zeng's essays were singled out among many discussing similarly sensitive topics in the quake's aftermath.
Zeng is a retired university professor, according to 6-4tianwang, whose founder, Huang Qi, was also arrested the day after the site reported Zeng's detention.
The Hong Kong Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said in July that the case had been passed to the prosecutor's office in Mianyang and was pending trial. CPJ was unable to confirm a report, given orally to a family friend by an officer at the Mianyang police station, that she had been given an extrajudicial sentence of one and a half years' re-education through labor. Zeng's husband did not return phone calls.
Huang Qi, 6-4tianwang
IMPRISONED: June 10, 2008
The Web site 6-4tianwang reported that its founder, Huang Qi, had been forced into a car along with two friends on June 10. On June 18, news reports said police had detained him and charged him with illegally holding state secrets.
In the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, Huang's site reported on the shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the quake, killing hundreds of children, and on earthquake relief. His arrest came shortly after the Web site reported the detention of academic Zeng Hongling, who posted critical articles about earthquake relief on overseas Web sites.
Huang was denied access to a lawyer until September 23. One of his defense lawyers, Mo Shaoping, told reporters that Huang had been questioned about earthquake-related reports and photos on the Web site immediately after his arrest, but that the state secrets charge stemmed from documents saved on his computer.
Mo told reporters that his client was deprived of sleep during a 24-hour interrogation session after his June arrest. He was being held in Chengdu Detention Center. Mo told CPJ in October that Huang was waiting for the prosecution to review evidence submitted by police.
Huang's mother, Pu Wenqing, and wife, Zeng Li, appealed for medical parole for Huang, who suffers from ailments that began during a previous detention, according to news reports. Huang spent five years in prison, from 2000 to 2005, on charges of inciting subversion in articles posted on his Web site in 2000.
Du Daobin, freelance
IMPRISONED: July 21, 2008
Police re-arrested Du Daobin on July 21 during an apparent crackdown on dissidents prior to the Beijing Olympics in August. His defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told CPJ that public security officials arrested the dissident, who is a well-known Internet writer, at his workplace in Yingcheng in the province of Hubei.
Du had been serving a four-year probationary term, handed down by a court on June 11, 2004, for inciting subversion of state power in articles published on Chinese and overseas Web sites. The probationary terms included reporting monthly to authorities and seeking permission to travel. Alleging that he had violated the conditions, police revoked Du's probation and jailed him, according to news reports.
Mo told CPJ in October that the defense team sought to challenge the police decision, but Chinese law does not allow such appeals. Du was being held in Hanxi Prison in Wuhan, the provincial capital.
Rangjung, Seda TV
IMPRISONED: September 11, 2008
Public security officials in a Tibetan region of China's western Sichuan province arrested Rangjung, a television journalist and writer, according to an Indian-based Tibetan rights group and Radio Free Asia (RFA). Rangjung is known by one name.
Officials of Seda county – known as Serthar in Tibetan – detained Rangjung in his home, according to Tashi Choephel Jamatsang, a researcher for the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in India. The group learned of the arrest from Rangjung's relatives in Sichuan and Tibet, Tashi Choephel told CPJ by e-mail. In a report citing unnamed local sources as well as an exiled Tibetan, RFA said police confiscated his laptop at the time of his detention.
Chinese officials did not acknowledge the detention, and the journalist's whereabouts were unclear in late year, according to Tashi Choephel and RFA. RFA reported that police told Rangjung's family he was being held at the Kardze prefectural detention center, but CPJ could not independently confirm his location.
Rangjung, a Tibetan-language news presenter for the local station in Seda county, is also a writer and singer, according to the reports. Tashi Choephel told CPJ that Rangjung had posted numerous articles and poems on his Tibetan-language blog that were potentially sensitive. "He is bold enough to have covered topics that others are not ready to express openly under such a repressive environment," he told CPJ by e-mail.Rangjung participated in protests against Chinese rule that swept Tibetan regions after rioting broke out in Lhasa in March, according to RFA and reports posted on pro-Tibetan Web sites.