CHINA - Cyber-dissident accused of illegal possession of state secrets is denied right to see lawyer



    MONTREAL, July 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders deplores the
way the police in Chengdu (in the central province of Sichuan) have been
treating human rights activist Huang Qi since his arrest on 10 July for
"illegal possession of state secrets," a charge that carries a possible
three-year prison sentence. The police have been refusing him his right to be
visited by his lawyer.
    "By preventing Huang from seeing his lawyer, the Chinese authorities are
yet again demonstrating that nothing has changed in China as regards free
expression," Reporters Without Borders said. "Huang is the 49th
cyber-dissident to be imprisoned in China for trying to promote democracy and
freedom of expression online. We urge the authorities to free him pending his
trial."
    The Chengdu police told his family on 10 July that the results of their
investigation had already been passed to the prosecutor's office, which now
has three months to take a decision.
    Huang's wife, Zeng Li, told Reporters Without Borders: "I am very upset
about my husband and I do not understand what is pushing the authorities to
bring this charge against him. All Huang did was report what things were like
for the victims after the Sichuan earthquake."
    Huang's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, contacted the Chengdu police on 18 July to
request his right to visit, but it was refused. Mo said formal notification of
Huang's arrest had been provided to his mother earlier on 18 July but the
notification was not clear.
    Every since the 12 May earthquake in Sichuan, the 44-year-old Huang had
been posting articles on his website, 64Tianwang, criticising the way the
relief was being organised.
    He wrote on 20 May: "The reports we are seeing are biased. In reality, it
is very difficult for NGOs to deliver food aid. They are obliged to go through
government channels. The government is using its propaganda to portray itself
as a saviour to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the
corruptions scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the
past."
    Huang originally created his website, www.64tianwang.com, as bulletin
board for messages about missing persons. Reporters Without Borders awarded
him its Cyber-Freedom Prize in 2004 for his online defence of free expression
and human rights. A petition for his release has circulated in Chengdu and
other regions hit by the earthquake.
    Huang spent five years in Nanchong high security prison (in the northeast
of Sichuan province) after being arrested on 3 June 2000, the eve of the 11th
anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. He was charged with subversion
under articles 103 and 105 of the criminal code for posting articles about the
massacre by exiled dissidents on his website.
    He has serious health problems as a result the violence he underwent
during his first spell in prison, when the authorities refused to provide him
with appropriate treatment.
    A copy of the indictment of Huang that was issued by the Chengdu police
at 3 p.m. (Beijing time) on 18 July can be seen on our website :
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=27892




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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