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Online Activist Sentenced to 8 Years for Subversion; Lawyer Raises Procedural Concerns

November 5, 2012

On October 31, 2012, more than seven months after trying online activist Cao Haibo (曹海波) for “inciting subversion of state power,” the Kunming Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Yunnan Province, convicted Cao of the more serious charge of "subversion of state power," and sentenced him to eight years’ imprisonment.

Cao, 27, is the founder of Zhenghuahui (振华会), an online network platform that advocates for constitutional democracy. He was detained on October 21, 2011, by police in Kunming. The Kunming court tried him on May 22, 2012, in a closed-door hearing, claiming that the case involved state secrets.

Cao’s lawyer, Ma Xiaopeng (马晓鹏), told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that he does not know why the court took so long to issue a verdict and sentence. Ma added, "Cao’s family members were not informed of the verdict and did not receive a sentencing notice; for them, the whole process was opaque." Also commenting on the court’s earlier failure to inform Cao’s family of the trial in May, Ma said that the "trial procedure was certainly incorrect."

Late last week, HRIC tried calling Cao’s wife, Zhang Nian (张念), but was unable to reach her. Her phone either rang unanswered or responded with a voice message that said, “The number called is no longer in service.”

Cao, originally from Yancheng, Jiangsu Province, worked in an Internet café in Yunnan. He established Zhenghuahui in 2010 and created 20-30 QQ groups (online chat groups) for discussion of social issues and of the Three People's Principles (三民主义), a political philosophy developed by Sun Yatsen.

 

For more information on Cao Haibo, see:

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