The Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court on July 29, 2019, found veteran Sichuan activist Huang Qi (黄琦) guilty of “illegally providing state secrets abroad” and “intentionally leaking state secrets.” He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, deprived of political rights for four years, and fined RMB 20,000 (USD $2,900).
“In another predictable but outrageous blow for peaceful exercise of rights, the Intermediate Court decision highlights what China means by ‘rule of law,’” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “It means using the law to punish, silence, and subject Chinese citizens to abuse and torture for trying to expose and address serious social problems.”
As founder of 64 Tianwang (64tianwang.com), a website created to help people find missing relatives and advocate on behalf of vulnerable groups, Huang has been referred to as China’s first “cyber dissident.” Huang has previously been imprisoned twice, serving eight years in total. As a result of beatings and other abuses he suffered during his previous imprisonment, Huang developed fluid in the brain, rheumatic heart disease, and other health problems. In 2010, he was also diagnosed with chronic renal failure and other conditions, requiring daily medication.
Huang was most recently detained on November 28, 2016 and formally arrested on December 16, 2016. He has been held at the Mianyang detention center since then. Huang’s initial trial was suspended after he dismissed his lawyer for safety reasons on January 14, 2019. More than six months later, the court announced the verdict and sentence on July 29, taking only five minutes to do so. The conviction was based on information that Huang Qi posted from a local political legal committee report that documented crackdowns against a petitioner. According to sources, Huang plans to appeal the sentence to the Sichuan Higher People’s Court.
According to Article 111 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the sentence for “illegally providing state secrets outside the country,” when the “circumstances are particularly serious” is no less than 10 years or fixed-term imprisonment, otherwise referred to as a life sentence. In “sensitive” cases, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China may “guide” the court’s decision.
Huang’s 86-year old mother, Pu Wenqing (蒲文清), has petitioned tirelessly for her son. She is reportedly under house arrest, and did not receive any information about his trial or the verdict. Pu’s health has deteriorated significantly over the years, and she was recently diagnosed with cancer.