UPDATE: Gao Yu released on medical parole following sentence reduction

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the release of Gao Yu on medical parole following her sentence reduction handed down by the High Court of Beijing. The IFJ urge the Chinese government to immediately release the journalist and repeal her sentence and the charges against her.

Today, on November 26, the High Court of Beijing, following a one-day closed-door appeal trial, overruled the original sentence handed down to veteran journalist, Gao Yu from seven years to five years. The judge cited Gao Yu’s televised confession as reason for not overruling her conviction. Gao Yu’s defence lawyer, Mo Shaopping said: “We do not think Gao should be prosecuted and found guilty. We demand Gao be released immediately. However this is the final appeal, we will ask for medical parole while Gao has been suffering from different illness. Currently her health condition is ok.” 

Shortly after the decision was handed down regarding the sentence regarding, local media reported that the court had granted Gao Yu medical parole.

On the day of the judgement Beijing police were deployed to block traffic around the court building. Journalists were also unable to gain access to the building or courtroom as the trial was closed-door.

On April 24, 2014, 71-year-old, Gao Yu was arrested in Beijing on charges of illegally obtaining state secrets and sharing them with foreign media. Gao was subsequently charged and held in detention until her closed-door trial in November, 2014. During the trial, prosecution presented a televised confession by Gao Yu. However during the trial, Gao disclosed that police had coerced her to give the confession after they threatened to arrest her son. In April 2015, Gao Yu was sentenced to seven years in jail.

More recently, Gao Yu’s lawyers had applied for medical parole for Gao after it was revealed that she is suffering from a number of illnesses including, heart disease, high blood pressure and Meniere’s disease, as well as discovering an abnormality in her lymph node. She was also diagnosed with dermatosis, however medical parole has been denied twice. 

The IFJ Asia Pacific said: “The fact that Gao Yu was convicted and sentenced is an outrageous attack on press freedom in China. This sentence reduction is a step in the right direction, but the Chinese government needs to immediately release Gao and dismiss all charges against her. International pressure continues to mount for China due to the treatment and sentencing of Gao Yu.”

Following the sentencing of Gao in April 2015, the IFJ launched an international campaign calling on the Chinese government to drop all charges and immediately release the journalist.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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