China - Cyber-dissident jailed for five years and fined (euro)4,000



    MONTREAL, Nov. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders strongly
condemned a five-year prison sentence and 40,000 yuan ((euro)4,000) fine
imposed today by a district court in Tianhe (in the southeastern province of
Guangdong) on cyber-dissident Yang Maodong (better known as Guo Feixiong) for
"illegal commercial activity."
    "We are shocked by this harsh and unjustified sentence," the worldwide
press freedom organisation said. "The court seems to have acted on local or
national-level political instructions. We repeat our demand for Guo's release
before next year's Beijing Olympic Games." One of Guo's lawyers said they
would advise him to appeal, since he had always said he was innocent.
    His trial began on 9 July after nearly a year of investigations during
which he was held in custody. He was tortured during interrogation and in
June, his wife Zhang Qing wrote to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. The
organisation Human Rights in China said Guo had been kept in bed for several
weeks and then prevented from sleeping for some days. He staged a 40-day
hunger strike to protest against his conditions of detention.
    Guo was officially accused of selling 20,000 books using a bogus
publishing reference. His wife said his lack of a licence was just an excuse
to hide the fact that the authorities did not like the content of the books.
Guo said at the start of his trial that "during my first 10 months in prison,
90% of the 175 interrogations I was subjected to involved human rights issues,
so it was clearly political persecution."
    Guo, who is also a human rights activist, has been held in Canton's
number 3 prison since the publication of his book The Political Earthquake in
Shenyang, in which he condemns corrupt officials of the city in the
northeastern province of Liaoning. He has also posted many articles on the
Internet.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, secretary general, Reporters
Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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