China jails journalist for 7 years for 'leaking state secrets'

Gao Yu, 71, was tried behind closed doors in Beijing last November, was convicted on a charge of providing state secrets to foreign contacts.

China jails journalist for 7 years for 'leaking state secrets'

World Bulletin / News Desk

 A Beijing court handed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu seven years in prison Friday on charges of leaking state secrets.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post cited the Beijing No. 3 Intermediate Court’s social media account as saying that Gao had been convicted of “leaking state secrets abroad.”

According to the statement, the political rights of Gao, 71, would also be revoked for a year upon her release.

Gao was placed under detention April 24 last year, with state media accusing her of illegally acquiring a “secret central [party] document” and supplying it to an overseas website. According to the Post, the document is thought to be a circular ordering curbs on seven “subversive influences,” such as “Western constitutional democracy” and “universal values” including free speech and human rights.

Prior to the recent charges, Gao had served a total of seven years in prison.

She spent 15 months in jail after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that ended with a bloody crackdown in Beijing, before being released for health reasons.

She received a six-year sentence in 1993 after being convicted of leaking state secrets -- a charge often leveled against Chinese journalists under which they can face a maximum of 15 years in jail.

In court Friday, Gao was not permitted to speak, but her brother – who requested to remain unnamed – told the Post that she smiled and said “I'll be fine. I will appeal” as she was led away.

He said the sentence was aimed at silencing the journalist and that her “mouth has been muzzled.”

“When she is out she will be nearly 80, what can she do?” he added, explaining Gao suffers from heart disease and high blood pressure.

"Given how her health has deteriorated in just one year, I doubt whether she can hold up until then.”

Last May, Gao confessed on state television, but later said she had done so under threats against her son.

Maya Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Post that Friday’s sentence was "a travesty of justice and shows that the party’s law is little more than just a weapon to silence dissent."

It has also drawn criticism from Amnesty International, which called it “nothing more than blatant political persecution by the Chinese authorities.”

William Nee, the rights group’s China researcher, said in a statement that Gao “is the victim of vaguely worded and arbitrary state-secret laws that are used against activists as part of the authorities’ attack on freedom of expression.”

Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2015, 11:19
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