Skip to content Skip to navigation

Gao Yu’s Sentence Reduction a Poor Substitute for Justice

November 26, 2015

Two days after a closed-door hearing on the appeal by 71-year-old veteran journalist Gao Yu (高瑜), the Beijing High People’s Court ruled today to reduce her sentence by two years. In a separate decision, the Beijing Municipal No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court, the court of first instance, approved the release of the ailing Gao to serve her sentence outside the prison.

Gao, a long-standing critic of the Communist Party of China, was convicted of “leaking state secrets abroad” in April this year and sentenced to seven years in prison. The appeals court upholds her one-year post-release deprivation of political rights.

“Allowing Gao to serve a reduced sentence outside prison, though a relief for her, does not take away the glaring fact that her prosecution was a politicized use of the law to punish speech,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “Gao Yu’s case also highlights serious systemic concerns raised, such as independence of the judiciary and access to justice, during the rigorous scrutiny of China by the UN Committee Against Torture earlier this month.”

“It is a crime even to sentence Gao Yu to one day of imprisonment,” said rights defense lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) in a comment he released. “I urge the international community to not let up its appeal for Gao and other prisoners of conscience.” 

Gao, a widely respected independent journalist known for her critique of party politics, was detained in April 2014 and accused of leaking Document No. 9, an internal Party directive on anti-Western ideological control, to the Hong Kong-based Chinese language website, Mingjing, which has denied the allegation. Her son was also disappeared during that time. In May, CCTV televised her confession, which she retracted at trial, saying that it had been coerced.

Gao 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. 

Explore Topics

709 Crackdown Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention All about law Arbitrary Detention
Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship
Charter 08 Children Chinese Law Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists
Citizen Participation Civil Society Commentary Communist Party Of China Constitution Consumer Safety
Contending views Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current affairs Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Elections Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China
Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion
Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency Hong Kong House Arrest HRIC Translation
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights developments Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control 
Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International perspective International Relations
Internet Internet Governance JIansanjiang lawyers' rights defense Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics One country, two systems Online Activism Open Government Information Personal stories
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Probing history
Propaganda Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor
Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Special Topic State compensation
State Secrets State Security Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories
Tiananmen Mothers Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations US-China 
Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women Youth Youth Perspective