According to court documents, Chen Jieran was convicted of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble, extortion, illegal business operations and bribery”. Chen, who had previously worked for some of China’s propaganda outlets including the People’s Daily, was convicted on May 1 but has been held in detention by China’s authorities since 2018.
The court statement said that Chen had “published false information on blogs, WeChat public accounts, WeChat moments and other We-media to hype relevant cases”. In another smear, the court also convicted him of “illegal business activity” and extortion.
The sentencing comes at a time when China’s authorities are further clamping down on reporting around the Covid-19 pandemic.
The efforts of the Chinese government to control media in the online space has included the assumed detainment of independent Chinese journalists in February, who went missing after reporting on the initial outbreak of Covid-19 and the arrest of Beijing activists on April 19 for archiving reports on the outbreak.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ and its affiliates express concern at the detainment of Chen Jieran since 2018 and his subsequent conviction and again call on China’s authorities to respect the media’s right to report in the public interest.”