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Heavy Sentence for Gao Yu Exposes Hollowness of “Rule by Law” in China

April 17, 2015

HRIC strongly condemns the seven-year prison sentence for Gao Yu (高瑜), the 71-year-old independent journalist convicted of “illegally providing state secrets abroad.” Gao is also subject to one year of post-release deprivation of political rights. The sentence was announced by the Beijing Municipal No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court, where Gao was tried in November 2014.

Gao was accused of leaking Document No. 9, an internal directive on ideological control issued by the Communist Party of China in 2013 that outlines seven “Noteworthy Problems”—constitutional democracy, universal values, civil society, neoliberalism, the West’s idea of journalism, historical nihilism, and questioning the socialist nature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

“Gao’s conviction is the latest signal of a severe tightening of control on access to information,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “The politicized use of the charge of ‘leaking state secrets abroad’ once again exposes the hollowness of the official slogan of ruling the country in accordance with the law.”

Gao was detained on April 24, 2014, along with her son. In May, she made a televised confession on CCTV, which she later retracted during her trial, saying her confession had been made under duress.

In an interview with Voice of America today, Mo Shaoping (莫少), a lawyer for Gao, said that Gao had stressed that she made the confession because the police used her son as a threat. Mo said that he believed the court based its conviction chiefly on Gao’s confession, instead of on factual evidence, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Gao is a widely admired journalist, who has long been targeted by the authorities for her critical reportage. She had been imprisoned twice previously, the first time in 1989 for 15 months, following her attempt to dissuade the military from acting against the demonstrators in the 1989 Democracy Movement, and later in 1994 for six years, also for leaking state secrets.

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