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Four Internet Activists Imprisoned for Subversion

May 28, 2003
Correction: In 2003, HRIC erroneously reported that Jin Haike, Xu Wei, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai were charged with “inciting subversion of state power.” The actual charge was “subversion of state power.” The correction has been made in this press release.

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that four Chinese Internet activists, Xu Wei, Yang Zili, Jin Haike and Zhang Honghai, have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after posting articles on matters of public concern.

Sources close to the activists, all of whom are around 30 years old, told HRIC that the Beijing Intermediate Court on the morning of May 28 sentenced Jin Haike and Xu Wei to 10 years in prison, while Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai each received sentences of 8 years in prison, all on charges of "subversion of state power".

Yang Zili, a computer engineer, Xu Wei, a reporter and editor for Beijing’s Consumer Daily newspaper, Jin Haike, a geological engineer, and Zhang Honghai, a freelance writer, had all posted a number of articles on the Internet expressing concern over current events and social conditions. They had also established an organization called the New Youth Society, dedicated to exploring ways toward social reform. All four were arrested in March 2001 after a government agent infiltrated their group, and they were tried on charges of subversion on September 28 of that same year, but without a verdict being delivered. Over the past two years their lawyers have been protesting their prolonged detention while the trial was in recess.

All four men have previously complained to the court about abusive treatment in detention, but no official investigation has been carried out to date. During the trial on May 28, Xu Wei complained to the court that he had been brutally beaten in custody and tortured with electric shock to his genitals, causing long-term numbness in his lower body. While protesting his treatment, Xu Wei struck his head on the judge’s desk and fell unconscious, and had to be carried out by six police officers. After a few minutes of confusion and a court recess, the judge delivered his verdict against all four defendants and adjourned the trial.

HRIC deeply deplores the abusive treatment of Yang Zili, Xu Wei, Jin Haike and Zhang Honghai, their lengthy detention prior to judgment, and their harsh sentences for no greater crime than peacefully expressing their views.

“The long-delayed verdict delivered at this time, while everyone is preoccupied with the SARS crisis, suggests that the Chinese authorities are hoping their disgraceful treatment of these dissidents will escape notice and condemnation in China and abroad,” said HRIC president Liu Qing.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English): 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese): 212-239-4495