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    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Zhao Yan’ Category

Release of Journalist Zhao Yan in China is Three Years Too Late: HRIC

Posted by Author on September 17, 2007


Human Rights in China, September 16, 2007-

Concerning the release of New York Times journalist Zhao Yan on the completion of his three-year prison sentence, Human Rights in China (HRIC) regrets that he was not released three years earlier. Zhao Yan should have been released in September 2005, after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an international independent expert body, found his detention to be arbitrary because it violated his fundamental freedoms and also undermined his due process rights.

Zhao was detained in September 2004 in connection with a New York Times article that predicted the resignation of Jiang Zemin from his last major post as head of the military. Zhao was held in detention for more than 19 months without trial on suspicion of leaking state secrets to the newspaper.

On March 17, 2006, one month before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States, news stories circulated that charges against Zhao had been dropped and that he would soon be released from prison. However, on June 16, 2006, Zhao Yan went to trial for both “leaking state secrets” and fraud. On August 25, 2006, Zhao was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, but was cleared of the state secrets charge. The trial failed to meet international standards of due process because it was held behind closed doors on the basis of the state secrets charge of which Zhao was later cleared. Zhao lodged an appeal against his sentence on September 4, 2006, but his appeal was denied on December 1, 2006, at a five-minute closed hearing at which Zhao was not allowed to testify, violating domestic due process protections.

Prior to joining the New York Times as a researcher in Beijing, Zhao Yan was a journalist who wrote extensively about rural issues and government corruption, and advocated for peasants’ rights. Zhao’s release on September 15 took into account the two years he served in detention preceding his trial.

“The state secrets charges undermined Zhao Yan’s rights to procedural protections that would have otherwise applied,” said HRIC’s executive director, Sharon Hom. “Zhao Yan’s case demonstrates the way in which state secrets charges can be manipulated, and also how Chinese officials use trumped-up charges to silence unpopular views or reporting,” said Hom. HRIC urges the Chinese government to release all other individuals whose detentions have been declared arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, including journalist Shi Tao, labor activist Yao Fuxin, and democracy activist Hu Shigen.

– Original report from Human Rights in China: HRIC Says Release of Journalist Zhao Yan is Three Years Too Late

Posted in Beijing, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, Opinion, People, Politics, Report, World, Zhao Yan | 1 Comment »

New York Times Researcher Zhao Yan Freed in China

Posted by Author on September 15, 2007


AFP, Via Google News, Sep 14, 2007-

BEIJING (AFP) — The New York Times researcher Zhao Yan, jailed in China in 2004 and convicted of fraud after being cleared of divulging state secrets, was freed on Saturday, his family told AFP.

“Zhao Yan has been freed at 8:00 am (0000 GMT) from a detention centre in Beijing,” his sister Zhao Kun said by telephone, adding he was in good health and good spirits.

The 45-year-old researcher thanked his family, friends and employer for their support in a statement issued after his release. He also thanked the media for covering his case.

“These three years I have missed my family very much, especially my maternal grandmother who is now more than 100 years old,” he said in the statement. “For that reason I want some time to reunite with my family.

“After a short time, I hope to see many other friends and members of the media. I also plan to make a longer written statement expressing my views at some point in the near future,” he added.

Zhao was arrested in September 2004 after the New York Times correctly reported that former president Jiang Zemin was about to resign from his last official post as the country’s top military leader.

Jiang’s retirement, while widely expected, was a closely guarded secret.

Zhao was charged with leaking state secrets to the New York Times, which he and the newspaper always denied. He was found not guilty on the charges of leaking state secrets but convicted of fraud.

Zhao’s case sparked diplomatic rows between China and the United States, with Washington repeatedly calling on Beijing to release him. International human rights groups also demanded his release.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times, said he was delighted Zhao, an employee of the newspaper’s Beijing bureau, was free after three years in prison.

“We have said all along that Mr Zhao is an honourable, hard-working reporter whose only offence seems to have been practicing journalism,” he said.

“It is our expectation that Mr Zhao, having served his full three-year term, will now be able to resume his life and return to his chosen profession without restrictions.”

Zhao’s sister said last year the fraud charge, which accused him of receiving 20,000 yuan (2,660 dollars) from a farmer while working for a newspaper in northeast China’s Jilin province in 2001, was an “excuse” for authorities to jail him.

The researcher’s legal team have said he was convicted solely on the testimony of a Jilin official who accused him of demanding the money to help villagers.

Zhao was long seen as a thorn in the side of local authorities because he wrote a series of critical reports about official abuse of peasants while working for a Chinese magazine.

Activists have said the case against him was part of a campaign by authorities to intimidate journalists and silence people who challenged the government.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Zhao should not have been jailed in the first place.

“His case is emblematic of the Chinese government?s willingness to use its highly politicised legal system to restrain both the domestic and international press,” said Sophie Richardson, the group’s Asia advocacy director.

“The Chinese government currently jails more journalists than any other country in the world,” Richardson said, adding that all reporters and writers held for trying to speak openly or access information should be freed.

Campaign group Reporters Without Borders said Zhao should have all his rights restored, including the right to work as a journalist.

“The government showed no clemency towards Zhao, who was a scapegoat in an affair of state in which he was not involved,” it said in a statement.

At least 35 journalists and 51 cyber-dissidents were in prison in China just for exercising their right to inform, it added.

Original report from AFP

Posted in Beijing, censorship, China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, News, People, Politics, USA, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on New York Times Researcher Zhao Yan Freed in China

Report from Journalist Group Criticizes Press Freedoms in China

Posted by Author on February 3, 2007


By JOSEPH KAHN, New York Time, February 3, 2007-

BEIJING, Feb. 2 — A leading media watchdog group on Friday accused President Hu Jintao of China of seeking to bring the media to heel and instigating an expanding crackdown on the press despite China’s pledge to enhance media freedoms before the 2008 Olympics, which are to be held in Beijing.

Reporters Without Borders, based in Paris, said in its annual report on press freedoms that conditions for the news media and for journalists had deteriorated in China.

“The press is being forced into self-censorship, the Internet is filtered, and the foreign media very closely watched,” the group said in the report, which was released Friday.

It continued, “Faced with burgeoning social unrest and journalists who are becoming much less compliant, the authorities, directed by President Hu Jintao, have been bringing the media to heel in the name of a ‘harmonious society.’ ”

The group cited the five-year sentence given to a Hong Kong reporter, Ching Cheong, and a three-year sentence for Zhao Yan, a researcher in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times, among other efforts to intimidate journalists.

“In both cases they were convicted after shoddy trials with no defense witnesses,” the group said.

In total, the group estimated that 31 journalists were serving jail terms in China and that the authorities had convicted 52 more people for posting political views on the Internet.

Other reporters have faced physical attacks by hired thugs associated with the local authorities or powerful business interests, and the police often fail to investigate the assaults, the group said.

———-
original report from New york Times

Posted in China, Hu Jintao, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, News, Official, People, Politics, Report, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Report from Journalist Group Criticizes Press Freedoms in China

Blind dissident sent to jail by China in ‘mockery of a trial’

Posted by Author on December 2, 2006


Times Online, UK, December 02, 2006-

China displayed yesterday its determination not to allow criticism from rights groups or foreign governments to affect its justice system when separate courts upheld the convictions, of a blind activist and a journalist, that have been condemned at home and abroad.

A court in the eastern province of Shandong re-sentenced Chen Guangcheng to four years and three months on charges of damaging public property and disrupting social order. The self-taught lawyer, who had documented cases of forced abortions and sterilisations, was appearing after an appeal court had ordered that his case be retried.

 

In Beijing the High Court took five minutes to reject an appeal by Zhao Yan, a researcher for The New York Times, against a sentence of three years in prison for fraud. In a rare decision for a justice system in which more than 95 per cent of trials result in a guilty verdict, a court had acquitted Mr Zhao earlier of the more serious charge of revealing state secrets, which could have led to a ten-year prison term.

Mr Chen’s case has drawn particular attention. His sentence was considered unusually heavy, especially since he was already under house arrest at the time the offences were committed. His lawyer called the verdict a tragedy for Chinese justice and said that he had been unable to call a key witness, who was apparently kidnapped on the eve of the trial.

International rights groups said that both men were victims of a campaign by Beijing’s Communist rulers to silence and intimidate dissenters.

Judges at the Yinan County Court in Shandong province took nearly an hour to read their verdict that upheld their earlier sentence on Mr Chen. Security was tight around the court, with dozens of police inside and outside, and manning a cordon around the building to prevent the entry of members of the public.

His brother, Chen Guangfu, was allowed to attend the session and he described the accused as impassive during the sentencing. “But when they asked him to place his fingerprint on the verdict, I heard him say, ‘I will appeal’.” Mr Chen, who was blinded in infancy and taught himself law to fight discrimination against the handicapped, was convicted in August by the same court. Last month an intermediate court , where Mr Chen, 34, had filed an appeal, overturned the sentence.

Chen Guangfu said: “This is a mockery. It is shameful.” At the ten-hour retrial on Monday, no witnesses or evidence were presented from the defence, Chen’s lawyer, Li Fangping, told The Times. “In court we had the upper hand and the other side made no effective rebuttal. At first we hoped that this would be a fair trial. However, the court clung obstinately to its evil course.”

The lawyer said that he was unable to present crucial witnesses after one was kidnapped on the eve of the trial and two others disappeared. He said: “This is a tragedy for China’s legal system . . . the outcome shows that they were just going through the motions.” For example, at the time of the disturbance last August when villagers blocked a road in Mr Chen’s hometown for three hours, the activist was surrounded by 26 men who had been watching him and keeping him under effective house arrest for months.

Mr Chen’s supporters said that officials fabricated the charges against him in retaliation after he documented complaints that officials who were trying to implement birth-control regulations had forced villagers to undergo late-term abortions and sterilisations. Beijing said later that it had carried out its own investigation and punished local officials after finding violations of the family planning policy.

Mr Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijin, who was taken away days before the second trial but later released, said that she had seen him this week and described him as being in high spirits.

When she asked her vegetarian husband about the food in prison, he replied jokingly: “Don’t worry. You can’t eat meat here even if you want to.” Another suspect had left Mr Chen all his clothes to keep him warm when he was released and the activist wore his friend’s overcoat to court. She said: “I am very disappointed today. This shows how powerful are the forces of evil.”

Rough justice

  • Chen Guangcheng acted as a lawyer for women in China’s Shangdong province, helping them to sue government officials for conducting a campaign of forced sterilisations and abortions
  • Time magazine named him as one of its 100 People Who Shape the World
  • After his conviction in August, Amnesty International said: “The charges against Chen were politically motivated and the trial was grossly unfair. Chen’s lawyers were obstructed from collecting evidence to representing him in court”
  • Posted in Activist, Beijing, Chen Guangcheng, China, East China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Blind dissident sent to jail by China in ‘mockery of a trial’

    Human Rights Group Condemn China’s Sentence of NYTimes reporter

    Posted by Author on December 1, 2006


    Reporters Without Borders, 30 November 2006-

    Reporters Without Borders condemned today’s decision by the Beijing high court to uphold a three-year prison sentence for New York Times researcher Zhao Yan on a charge of fraud. Arrested in September 2004, Zhao will complete his sentence in September 2007.

    “We deplore the inability of the Chinese courts to do anything other than hand down prison sentences set by the government,” the press freedom organisation said. “Once the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Commission has taken a decision, all the judges do is apply it, regardless of the right of defence and presumption of innocence.”

    Zhao’s lawyer, Guan Anping, who was not allowed to attend the appeal hearing, confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that the judges turned down the appeal against the sentence imposed on 25 August. The appeal hearing was unfair and contrary to Chinese law, and lasted only 10 minutes, he said. Zhao’s sister, Zhao Kun, called it a serious miscarriage of justice and urged the international community to speak out.

    Only three of Zhao’s relatives were allowed to be present when the court issued its decision. The presiding judge began by getting Zhao’s date and place of birth wrong. Then he asked Zhao if he had anything to say. Zhao responded: “Your information on my date and place of birth are not even correct. Is this how your employees prepare for hearings?”

    Zhao added: “There are no witnesses and not even the plaintiff is here. What kind of judge are you? Is this how you use the authority the country has given you?” Before he could finish speaking, the judge ordered him removed from the court. “Take the criminal away,” he said.

    Zhao’s sentence was confirmed on the same day that a prison sentence of four years and three months was upheld for Chen Guangcheng, a blind legal adviser and human rights activist who reported to the press that women were being forced to undergo abortions in Shandong province. The case has been completely censored in the Chinese press and on Chinese websites.

    Posted in Asia, Beijing, China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, News, Newspaper, People, Politics, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | 1 Comment »

    China upholds conviction for NY Times reporter

    Posted by Author on December 1, 2006


    Reuters, Nov 30, 2006-

    BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese court on Friday rejected the appeal of a Chinese researcher for the New York Times and upheld a three-year prison sentence handed down for fraud, his lawyer said.

    The ruling by the Beijing Higher People’s Court was final. With the two years Zhao Yan has already been detained, it would keep him in jail until September 2007, his attorney, Guan Anping told Reuters in a telephone interview.

    “It is not fair. It demonstrates that China’s judicial reforms have not been proceeding at the promised pace,” Guan said.

    The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court tried Zhao, a researcher in the Times’s Beijing bureau, in June and found him guilty of fraud, sentencing him to three years in jail in August for defrauding a rural official of 20,000 yuan ($2,500) in 2001.

    The prosecution said Zhao took the money on the understanding that he would help the man avoid a sentence of “labor re-education” — a form of imprisonment police can impose without a trial.

    But the court unexpectedly rejected a state secrets charge against Zhao over a 2004 story in the U.S. newspaper detailing a rivalry between Chinese President Hu Jintao and his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, over military appointments.

    Zhao was detained by Chinese state security personnel in Shanghai days after the story. Both Zhao and the Times have denied that he was the source of the story.

    Guan said the defense had been denied the right to subpoena key witnesses in both the first and the second trial.

    “Even though the existing Chinese criminal procedures already fall short of international standards, they are not seriously honored by the authorities,” Guan said.

    An official at the Beijing higher court declined to comment when reached by telephone.

    China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with at least 32 in custody, according to the Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

    Last Friday, the Beijing higher court upheld a five-year jail term given by a lower court to Ching Cheong, Hong Kong-based China correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times, on charges that he spied for Taiwan. (Reuters)

    Posted in Asia, Beijing, China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on China upholds conviction for NY Times reporter

    Journalist Zhao Yan is denied appeal hearing

    Posted by Author on November 6, 2006


    Reporters Without Borders, 6 November 2006-

    Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked at the decision of the Beijing High Court not to allow journalist Zhao Yan an appeal hearing. His lawyer will represent him simply through written submissions to the judges.

    “Just days after journalist Ching Cheong was denied an appeal hearing, we learn that the New York Times researcher is also to be denied his fundamental right to a fair trial,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

    “In both these cases it looks like the Chinese justice system is afraid of the truth. It is vital that Zhao Yan, winner of the 2005 Reporters Without Borders – Fondation de France prize, should be cleared of these monstrous fraud charges which hang over him,” it said.

    The journalist was cleared in a lower court of the charge of having revealed state secrets but was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, a charge which essentially relied on the evidence of a provincial official in Jilin and his relatives. Zhao has been in prison since 17 September 2004.

    The Beijing High Court made its decision to refuse an appeal hearing on 2 November. Zhao’s lawyer, Guan Anping, will have to plead his case based on written submissions to the court. He will be allowed to present new written evidence and add new exhibits to the file. This form of trial could be held in the next two weeks.

    At the first trial, the defence was denied the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. Zhao had asked for these witnesses to the appeal hearing to be submitted to a lie-detector test.

    Posted in Asia, China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Zhao Yan | 1 Comment »

    How Beijing keeps its promises

    Posted by Author on October 12, 2006


    Human Rights Feature, Oct. 2-6, 2006-

    The “voluntary pledge” presented by China in May for the express purpose of winning a seat on the Human Rights Council still rings in the ear, but it is ever more hollow today. Breaking its own promises, China poses a serious challenge to the new RC’s acclaimed reforms to provide a stronger and more effective protection of human rights.
    ….

    In the four months since it made the “voluntary pledge,” the Chinese government has:

    – Promulgated press control regulations on international media operating in China. In June, the government proposed huge fines (up to the equivalent of US$12,500) for journalists, foreign or domestic, who report “emergency incidents” such as clashes with police, epidemic outbreaks, or natural/man made disasters without official permission. On 10 September, the government enforced that the Xinhua News Agency would become the only authorized distributor of all news and information by foreign news agencies operating in China, in the process banning several categories of information.

    – Closed down countless online publications, discussion forums and chat rooms, and began monitoring email correspondences, cell phone calls, text messages and instant messaging. In the past few months, the government shut down popular websites and online forums frequented by activists and independent writers, such as the Aegean Sea, Century China, and Dijin Minzhu.

    – Detained human rights activists and lawyers, including the blind activist Chen Guangcheng in Shangdong, the rights activist/independent writer Guo Feixioang in Guangdong, and the Beijing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. The police have placed Gao Zhisheng’s wife and children under close and invasive surveillance since arresting him in mid-August.

    – Charged democracy/human rights activists with political crimes of “incitement and sedition to overthrow the state” that carry long prison terms or the death penalty. The rights activist Guo Qizhen and several other writers/democracy activists have been charged with this crime. On 6 September, authorities arrested Internet writer and former Aegean Sea website editor Zhang Jianhong on the grounds of “inciting subversion”. He faces a possible prison sentence of several years.

    – Imprisoned activists for peaceful activities. Chen Guangcheng was sentenced for 4 years and 3 months on 20 August. On 11 August, Tan Kai, an environmentalist from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and founder of the NGO “Green Watch,” was convicted of “illegally acquiring state secrets” and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. On 25 August, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Zhao Yan, a researcher at the Beijing office of New York Times, to three years imprisonment on charges of “fraud,” a trumped up charge in retaliation for his concern with peasant land rights and fair compensation, and for providing legal aid to help farmers bring litigation against corrupt officials.

    – Intensified persecution of unofficial “house church” members and demolished churches in the eastern provinces. In one case in August, in Xiaoshan of Zhejiang Province, officials demolished a 200-year old Christian church and arrested more than 60 church members who opposed the demolition. Zan Aizong, a journalist and Christian, received seven days of administrative detention for reporting the demolition of this church. He was accused of “spreading rumors and disturbing public order.”

    – Put hundreds of activists and outspoken critics of the government under house arrest or residential surveillance; some activists have been detained incommunicado or made to disappear for periods of time. On 18 August, the activist Deng Yongliang and lawyer Zhang Jiankang disappeared in police custody in Yinan, Shandong, and police denied knowledge of their whereabouts. They were eventually released.

    – Authorized use of police force to suppress peaceful demonstrations by farmers demanding land rights. On 9 August, 2006, Yao Baohua and Zhou Yaqin, representing landless peasants in Changzhou in Jiangsu Province, were placed under criminal detention by the local police and charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” They had been seeking to petition the local government and were expressing their views peacefully. On 22 August, rights representative Liu Zhengyou was badly beaten by unidentified thugs right before the eyes of police in Zigong City, Sichuan Province. Liu has been urging the government to negotiate with peasants to settle a land dispute fairly and had been participating with the farmers in peaceful demonstrations.

    ( More from Human Rights Feature’s article )

    Posted in Activist, Chen Guangcheng, China, Economy, Gao Zhisheng, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, Media, People, Police, Politics, Report, Rural, Social, Speech, Technology, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on How Beijing keeps its promises

    50 Leading Foreign Scholars Protest China’s Harassment of Human Rights

    Posted by Author on October 3, 2006


    Washington Post, October 3, 2006-

    BEIJING — More than 50 leading scholars and rights campaigners from the United States, Europe, and Australia have issued a rare public protest of Chinese policies, sending an open letter to President Hu Jintao asking him to stop the harassment of human rights activists.

    The Sept. 29 open letter posted on the Web site of the New York-based Human Rights Watch organization chiefly bore the signatures of some 40 well-known China scholars, including the Council on Foreign Relations’ Jerome Cohen, Harvard’s Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Yahuda of the London School of Economics.

    “We note with concern the sharp increase in official retaliation against such advocates and their families through persistent harassment, banishment, detention, arrest and imprisonment,” the letter said. “We … write to urge your commitment to ensuring the civil rights of advocates for social justice.”

    A call to the offices of the State Council _ China’s Cabinet _ went unanswered on the third day of a weeklong official holiday marking the annual National Day festivities.

    The Foreign Ministry said it was studying the contents of the letter.

    Foreign China scholars have rarely spoken out about human rights abuses in China, partly out of concern for their access to the country.

    In their appeal, the scholars said Chinese actions toward human rights activists called into question “China’s oft-stated commitment to a rule of law.”

    They said cases involving activists Gao Zhisheng, Chen Guangcheng, Zhao Yan and Hu Jia were particularly troubling because China appeared to be using “state secrets laws to prevent defendants in politically sensitive cases from exercising their rights to fair and impartial hearings.” ( more from Washington Post’s report )

    Posted in Activist, Australia, Chen Guangcheng, China, Europe, Gao Zhisheng, Hu Jia, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, News, People, Politics, Protest, Social, Speech, USA, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on 50 Leading Foreign Scholars Protest China’s Harassment of Human Rights

    Nearly 100 Rights Defenders Attacked in Beijing Area in half month

    Posted by Author on September 17, 2006


    Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Sept. 11, 2009– (abstract)

    Since mid-August, police all over China have carried out a centrally coordinated clampdown on rights activities. Without due process or legal procedure, large numbers of writers, intellectuals, lawyers and rights activists have been subjected to house arrest and other forms of tightened control.

    In Beijing alone, nearly 100 people have been affected. They include Liu Xiaobo, Jiang Qisheng, Wang Lixiong, Wei Se, Zhang Zuhua, Jiao Guobiao, Teng Biao, Li Heping, Jiang Tianyong, Li Baiguang, Fan Yafeng, Zhang Lihui, Li Fengping, Li Jingsong, Li Subin, Hou Wenzhuo, Li Hai, Hu Jia (twice detained for questioning in recent days), Liu Huo, Qi Zhiyong, Liu Jingsheng, Ma Wendu, Li Jinping and the family and contacts of lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Another, Zhao Xin, was forcefully returned to Yunnan Province.

    Highlights of the crackdown in Augest

    On August 9, 2006, human rights activist Guo Feixiong was beaten up by a gang of police officers on the train to Beijing. On the same day, Yao Baohua and Zhou Yaqin, representing landless peasants in Changzhou in Jiangsu Province were put under criminal detention by the local police and charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.” They had been seeking to petition the local government and were expressing their views peacefully.

    On August 11, Tan Kai, an environmentalist from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and founder of the NGO called “Green Watch,” was convicted of “illegally acquiring state secrets” and sentenced by the local court to 18 months of imprisonment. He had been protesting illegal pollution. The same day Zan Aizong, a Zhejiang correspondent for “China Ocean News,” received seven days of administrative detention for reporting the demolition of a church in Xiaoshan city. The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau accused Zan Aizong of “spreading rumors and disturbing public order”.

    On August 15, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was secretly arrested by police in Dongying city in Shandong. Gao had spoken out about his concerns about violations of human rights. The authorities have yet to announce the specific reasons for his arrest. Since his arrest, the police have placed his wife and children under close and invasive surveillance.

    On August 17, in Yinan County in Shandong Province, Dr. Xu Zhiyong, who had been providing legal assistance to the activist Chen Guangcheng, was accused of theft. Yinan police detained Xu, as well as two lawyers, Zhang Lihui and Li Fangping, who were accompanying him. They were taken to Jiehu police station for questioning.

    On August 18, other activists, including Deng Yongliang and lawyer Zhang Jiankang, were also detained by police in Yinan, Shandong, and their whereabouts remain unknown.

    On August 19, the Yinan County People’s Court sentenced blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng to four years and three months in prison for “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic order” and “willful damage to property”. The authorities refused to let Chen’s lawyers represent him in court.

    On August 20, Li Jianhong and Ouyang Xiaorong, both members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, were beaten by police in Qingdao, Shandong and forcibly returned to Shanghai and Yunnan.

    On August 22, rights representative Liu Zhengyou in Zigong City, Sichuan Province was badly beaten by unidentified thugs right before the eyes of police. Liu has been urging the government to negotiate with peasants to settle a land dispute fairly and had been participating with the farmers in peaceful demonstrations.

    On August 25, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Zhao Yan, a researcher at the Beijing office of New York Times, to three years of imprisonment on charges of “fraud.” In a trial that drew much international scrutiny, Zhao was found not guilty of “divulging state secrets.” Zhao Yan had been paying close attention to issues such as peasant land rights and fair compensation. He had also been providing legal aid to help people begin litigation against corrupt officials.

    On August 31, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court delivered a judgment in an initial hearing for Cheng Xiang (Ching Cheung), the chief China correspondent for the Singapore newspaper The Straits Times. Cheng was found guilty of “espionage” and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment plus one year of deprivation of political rights. The court also confiscated 300,000 yuan of Cheng’s personal property.

    – from China: Intensified Attack on Human Rights Defenders, Sept. 11, 2009

    Posted in Activist, Beijing, Chen Guangcheng, China, Ching Cheong, City resident, Dissident, Gao Zhisheng, Guo Feixiong, Human Rights, intellectual, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, News, People, Police, Politics, Social, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Nearly 100 Rights Defenders Attacked in Beijing Area in half month

    RSF condemn China’s ban on judges talking to the press

    Posted by Author on September 14, 2006


    Reporters Without Borders, 14 September 2006-

    Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Chinese government’s decision, announced by the official news agency Xinhua yesterday, to ban judges from talking to the press, as well as the increasing tendency for state agencies to say only their spokesperson is authorised to talk to journalists.

    “It is hard to see how gagging judges will increase the transparency of the judicial system, as Xinhua claims,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The government is simply trying to give itself a new tool for controlling news and information inside and outside the country. The increase in press freedom violations less than two years before the start of the Beijing Olympic Games raises serious questions about the Chinese government’s good faith.”

    In yesterday’s announcement, Xinhua said judges would be subject to “severe sanctions” if they violated the ban on talking directly to journalists. Communication with the media would henceforth be handled by the court spokesperson, who would also have the power to ban other judicial officials from answering journalists’ questions, Xinhua said.

    Similar measures for lawyers were already announced in May. They were told in effect that they would be subject to sanctions by their bar association if they gave journalists, especially foreign correspondents, information about sensitive issues such as the cases of political prisoners.

    Journalists working for the foreign news media are also affected by these restrictions. They are losing access to significant sources of information within the courts.

    By appointing spokespersons – a practice also seen in other state entities – the authorities are trying to get full control over the news and information published in the Chinese press. A few days ago, the authorities announced a decision to consolidate Xinhua’s monopoly over the circulation of news in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and, in theory, Taiwan.

    The three-year prison sentence recently imposed on New York Times researcher Zhao Yan and the five-year one given to Ching Cheong, the correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times daily, are also part of this drive to control the news two years before some 20,000 journalists from throughout the world arrive in Beijing to cover the Olympics.

    Related:

    Media controls for Chinese courts , BBC News, 13 September 2006

    Posted in Chen Guidi, China, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, Lawyer, Media, News, People, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan, World, Xinhua, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on RSF condemn China’s ban on judges talking to the press

    CPJ: CHINA restricts foreign news distribution

    Posted by Author on September 12, 2006


    The Committee to Protect Journalists, September 11, 2006, New York-

    The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by China’s announcement Sunday that the state-controlled Xinhua News Agency would oversee the distribution of foreign news and information within China, and would censor all news stories, photographs and other information deemed offensive under several broad categories.

    “It is greatly distressing that less than two years before the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing, the government is attempting to tighten its financial and political control over the flow of information in China,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “These new regulations on the distribution of foreign news are a step backward.”

    The sweeping regulations are likely to affect financial news reporting and economic information providers that sell services directly to clients inside China, according to international news reports. The new rules come amid China’s heightened effort to control foreign and local press coverage through administrative measures and the civil and criminal prosecution of journalists.

    Xinhua announced that the new regulations, called Measures for Administering the Release of News and Information in China by Foreign News Agencies, would take effect immediately. Under these measures, Xinhua News Agency says it would retain the right to select the news distributed within China, and would delete any materials found to:

    • Violate the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;
    • Undermine China’s national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
    • Endanger China’s national security, reputation and interests;
    • Violate China’s religious policies or preach evil cults or superstition;
    • Incite hatred and discrimination among ethnic groups, undermine their unity, infringe upon their customs and habits, or hurt their feelings;
    • Spread false information, disrupt China’s economic and social order, or undermine China’s social stability;
    • Propagate obscenity and violence, or to abet crimes;
    • Humiliate or slander another person, or infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of another person;
    • Undermine social ethics of the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation;
    • Include other content banned by Chinese laws and administrative regulations.

    Any foreign news agency found to be violating these rules could be suspended or its rights to provide news within China cancelled, Xinhua said on its English-language Web site. The measures will also affect the distribution on the mainland of information released by news agencies in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

    The re-publication of foreign news is already restricted through censorship agencies that control domestic media. But the new rules rescind a 1996 agreement allowing limited direct distribution of financial news and information to customers in China.

    “Xinhua’s new rules will have no effect on the way we cover and provide the news globally,” said Clayton Haswell, director for Asia and the Pacific for The Associated Press, a news agency likely to be affected by the new rules, in a statement released to CPJ. “But this raises serious concerns for AP regarding fair trade and the free flow of information within China.”

    A Reuters spokeswoman said that the agency was examining the new regulations.

    “We are studying these rules closely to see how they differ from the current guidelines and will be discussing the details of the new regulations with Xinhua,” said Samantha Topping.

    Bloomberg News declined comment.

    Journalists in China have told CPJ that the government is pursuing the most intense attack on the press since the aftermath of the crackdown on protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989. More than 30 journalists are currently jailed in China, including foreign news agency employees Zhao Yan of The New York Times, and Ching Cheong of The Straits Times of Singapore.

    Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, Ching Cheong, Hong kong, Journalist, Law, Media, News, Politics, Social, Speech, Taiwan, World, Xinhua, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on CPJ: CHINA restricts foreign news distribution

    New York Times researcher gets three years on fraud charge

    Posted by Author on August 25, 2006


    photo of Zhao Yan Reporters Without Borders today condemned the three-year prison sentence which a Beijing court imposed yesterday on New York Times researcher Zhao Yan for alleged fraud while dismissing the original charge of treason and divulging state secrets.

    “The court cleared Zhao of the treason charge for lack of evidence and it should have done the same with the fraud charge,” the press freedom organisation said. “Zhao is known for his commitment to China’s peasants and the accusations that were brought against him were all ridiculous. We support his sister’s request for an appeal and we call for his provisional release as he as already spent too much time in prison.”

    Zhao was arrested on 17 September 2004 for allegedly revealing to the New York Times, well before it was officially announced, that former President Jiang Zemin was about to resign as chairman of the Military Central Commission, his last political post of influence.

    The fraud charge – allegedly requesting 20,000 yuan (2,000 euros) from a peasant in exchange for advising him on how to avoid prison – was added on 1 June 2005 with the apparent aim of being able to keep him longer in pretrial custody.

    The Beijing No. 2 People’s Intermediate Court gave Zhao a summary trial behind closed doors on 16 June. Witnesses were not allowed to testify and Zhao’s lawyers were not allowed to express their criticism of the procedure. The court should have issued its verdict by 25 July and violated the law by keeping Zhao in detention for more than a month without doing so.

    Zhao, who was awarded the 2005 Reporters Without Borders – Fondation de France press freedom prize, should be released in September 2007 as the nearly two years he has already spent in prison will be discounted from his sentence.

    The court’s decision to dismiss the charge of divulging state secrets was hailed by Zhao’s lawyers as a “great victory for us and the Chinese judicial system.” The New York Times described it as a “vindication” for its position that he did nothing wrong as a journalist. His sister however said Zhao would appeal against the fraud conviction.

    Reporters Without Borders hails the unflagging support which the New York Times has given Zhao for the past two years. The organisation also salutes the many diplomats and NGOs who defended his rights.

    Related:

    Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2), RSF, 7 August, 2006

    No verdict in Zhao Yan trial, RSF/IFEX, 28th July 2006

    Posted in China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, People, Politics, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on New York Times researcher gets three years on fraud charge

    China sets Friday hearing for N.Y. Times researcher

    Posted by Author on August 21, 2006


    BEIJING, Aug 21 (Reuters) – A Chinese researcher for the New York Times who was tried by Beijing on charges of revealing state secrets is set for a court hearing on Friday, raising the possibility of a verdict, his lawyer said on Monday.

    Zhao Yan, who began work at the New York Times’s Beijing bureau in 2004, was detained in September of that year on the secrets charge after the paper reported former Chinese President Jiang Zemin would give up his sole remaining leadership post as military chief. The report turned out to be correct.

    Zhao was tried on June. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said it was unclear whether a verdict would be delivered at the Friday hearing.

    “We may find out in the next day whether that’s the reason for the hearing, but for now we can’t be certain,” he told Reuters, noting that Chinese courts are supposed to give three days’ notice of verdicts.

    “We’ll see if we can clarify that tomorrow,” he said.

    The hearing will come after a string of detentions of lawyers has cast a spotlight on ruling Communist Party officials’ wariness of independent-minded lawyers.

    Last Friday, an attorney defending a blind human rights activist facing trial in east China’s Shandong province was held by police till the hearing ended. That same day, Beijing police announced they had detained Gao Zhisheng, an outspoken human rights lawyer.

    Zhao’s lawyers have been forbidden from disclosing details of the trial, but a previous indictment accused him of describing jostling over military appointments between Jiang and his successor Hu Jintao before Jiang’s retirement, as well as a lesser crime of fraud.

    If Zhao is found guilty, he could face a prison sentence of 10 years or more.

    The Times and Zhao have rejected the charges against him and demanded his release. His lawyers have complained of irregularities throughout the case.

    In March, a Beijing court granted a prosecutors’ request to withdraw at last part of the indictment against Zhao, initially raising defence lawyers’ expectations he would be released.

    Related:
    Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2) , RSF, Aug.7, 2006
    No verdict in Zhao Yan trial , RSF/IFEX, July 28th, 2006

    Posted in China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, People, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on China sets Friday hearing for N.Y. Times researcher

    Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2)

    Posted by Author on August 12, 2006


    Reporters Without Borders, 7 August– (cont’d)

    Further and further

    The prolonged detention of New York Times researcher Zhao Yan and Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong have shown that journalists working for the Chinese press are not the only targets of the crackdowns. The government also turns its sights on the foreign media whenever they do anything to upset it.

    The foreign journalists who are based in China or come on visits continue to be subject to police control. Everyone is aware of the surveillance, including the phone tapping. One might have expected China to keep its promise to the IOC to guarantee the media’s freedom of movement. But this has not happened.

    “In no other major country is there so much control over foreign journalists,” says Jonathan Watts of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China. Dozens of foreign journalists – both visitors and those based there – are detained, threatened or attacked each year. “We are unable to give an exact figure at the moment, somewhere between 50 and 100 a year, but the number of journalists prevented from working by force is a problem that should be raised at the highest level,” says Watts. The Foreign Correspondents Club still lacks official recognition and therefore has no premises of its own in Beijing. (to be cont’d…)

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    Related:

    China: seven websites shut down in the past few weeks
    Internet essayist put in prison as verdict is delayed
    China’s new wave of Internet censorship, RSF
    AI report 2006- China overview(2)

    Posted in Beijing Olympics, China, Ching Cheong, Journalist, Media, Social, Special report, Speech, Sports, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on Media crackdowns: two years before Beijing Olympics(2)

    No verdict in Zhao Yan trial

    Posted by Author on July 28, 2006


    (RSF/IFEX) – Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern at the “completely illegal” handling by the authorities of the case of “New York Times” employee Zhao Yan, who faces the death penalty for “fraud” and “revealing state secrets.” The organisation calls for the immediate release of the laureate of the 2005 Reporters Without Borders press freedom prize.

    No verdict has been announced within the official six-week time limit (which expired on 25 July 2006) after his behind closed doors trial on 16 June by the Beijing no. 2 intermediate court.

    “The New York Times” has applied for his release and his lawyer, Guan Anping, said it was hoped the authorities would “recognise the irregularities in the case and take a just decision.”

    Posted in China, Human Rights, Journalist, Law, Media, People, Social, Speech, World, Zhao Yan | Comments Off on No verdict in Zhao Yan trial