China - Cyber-dissident Zhang Jianhong gets six years in prison



    MONTREAL, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay
on learning that cyber-dissident Zhang Jianhong, who is also known by the
pen-name of Li Hong, was sentenced today to six years in prison by a court in
Ningbo, in the eastern province of Zhejiang. He has appealed against the
sentence.
    A member of the Chinese branch of the independent writers association
PEN, Zhang was arrested in September 2006 and was charged the following month
with "incitement to subvert the state's authority" for calling for political
reform in articles posted on the Internet. Two other cyber-dissidents who were
arrested six months ago, Chen Shuqing and Yang Maodong, are still awaiting
trial.
    "This verdict is sadly yet another example of the judicial system being
used by the political authorities," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is
outrageous that cyber-dissidents get severe prison sentences just for the
views they express. Yet again, they are being made to pay a heavy price for
their commitment. After Zhang's conviction, we fear that the same fate is in
store for Chen and Yang."
    According to the New China news agency, Zhang was convicted of writing
"articles defaming the Chinese government and calling for agitation to
overthrow the government." The court said it was showing clemency to the
defendant, who posted around 100 articles on the Internet from May to
September 2006, because he expressed remorse during the trial.
    Aged 48, Zhang founded the literary website Aiqinghai.net
(http://www.aiqinghai.org/) in August 2005 and was its editor until the
authorities shut it down in March 2006. He also wrote regularly for sites such
as Boxun (http://www.boxun.com) and The Epoch Times
(http://www.dajiyuan.com/). He already spent a year and a half in a
reeducation-through-work camp for "counter-revolutionary propaganda" after
getting involved in the 1989 pro-democracy movement.
    Chen's case has been sent back to the police for further investigation. A
member of the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), he was charged on 17 October
2006 with "incitement to subvert the state's authority." He was already
detained for four months in 1999 for helping to create the CDP.
    Better known as Guo Feixiong, Yang was arrested on 14 September 2006. A
lawyer, writer and human rights activist, he has been accused of "illegal
business activity." He was previously arrested for "disturbing the peace"
after a rally on 13 September 2005 in the village of Taishi (in Guangdong
province).

    Reporters Without Borders defends imprisoned journalists and press
freedom throughout the world. It has nine national sections (Austria, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). It has
representatives in Bangkok, London, New York, Tokyo and Washington. And it has
more than 120 correspondents worldwide.




For further information:

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

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