China - False start to trial of Sichuan cyber-dissident Huang Qi



    MONTREAL, Feb. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders deplores the
way the authorities are handling the case against Huang Qi, a cyber-dissident
who has been held in Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan province) since 10 June
on a charge of "illegal possession of state secrets." His family and lawyers
were told on 2 February that the trial would start the next day, but the
hearing was postponed and a new date has not been announced.
    "Huang is yet again the victim of the judicial system's lack of
independence and is reliving the nightmare he already experienced after he was
arrested for the first time in 2000," Reporters Without Borders said. "The
authorities have no evidence of his guilt but are trying at all costs to
silence him. We condemn this persecution and reiterate our call for his
release."
    Ding Xikui, the assistant of Huang's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, was able to see
Huang in Chengdu prison yesterday. "He is in good health, mentally and
physically," Ding told Reporters Without Borders. "The prison authorities did
not try to disturb us and I was able to talk to him for more than an hour."
    The police passed Huang's case file to the Sichuan prosecutor's office in
mid-January. Under Chinese law, the prosecutor's office has a month and a half
to set a day for the start of the trial, which it must do by notifying the
defendant's family and lawyer at least three days in advance. As the
authorities only gave one day's notice to Huang's family and lawyers, they
were legally obliged to postpone it.
    Huang had himself been told from the outset that his trial would start on
3 February. Arrested for posting articles about last May's Sichuan earthquake
on his website, Huang was formally charged with "illegal possession of state
secrets" on 18 July. Until yesterday, all of his lawyer's requests to see him
had been refused since 18 September.
    Huang originally created his website, Tianwang (www.6-4tianwang.com), as
bulletin board for messages about missing persons. He was first arrested in
June 2000, on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square
massacre, for posting articles on his website that he had obtained from
dissident organisations based abroad.
    He was finally sentenced on 9 May 2003 to five years in prison on a
charge of "trying to overthrow state authority" under articles 103 and 105 of
the criminal code. His wife, who had not seen him since his arrest, was not
notified about the hearing in which the verdict and sentence were announced.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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