IFJ Condemns China's Harsh Sentence for Unpublished Articles

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) is appalled that a Chinese court has jailed a legal

practitioner for

four years and deprived him of political rights for five years because of

several unpublished articles and his interviews with the media.

 

The People’s Court of Jixi, in

north-east China’s Heilongjiang province,

sentenced Yuan Xianchen on March 4.

 

Yuan, 45, was charged in June 2008 with

inciting subversion of state power on the basis of several unpublished articles

in which he referred to the Communist Party as autocratic and noted a need for

democracy in China.

The charges also refer to Yuan agreeing to three interviews with the online

news site, the Epoch Times.

 

“The IFJ condemns the criminal

prosecution of Yuan. The charge of inciting subversion of state power is

ludicrous, especially in a case where the evidence is unpublished notes,” IFJ

General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

“The same charge has been used to

jail too many journalists and writers in China for fear of citizens

exercising their right to free expression.”

 

Yuan’s lawyer, Li Xionbing, told the

IFJ, “The so-called articles were never published. They were only draft notes

which noted down his own comments.”

 

Another lawyer, Li Fangping, added that Yuan would

appeal.

 

Li said Yuan’s wife, who was only

informed of the verdict a day after the hearing, was very worried about her

husband’s deteriorating health.

 

Yuan had told the court that

security personnel had assaulted him in his cell, causing bleeding and bruising

to his head and nose.

 

“The grounds for the prosecution

were unsubstantiated under the Chinese Constitution, Article 35, and the Johannesburg

Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to

Information [agreed in 1995 by experts in international law, national security

and human rights, and repeatedly cited by United Nations entities],” Li said.

 

He added that the assault on Yuan

was illegal under Section 43 of China’s Criminal Law.

 

“The IFJ calls on China’s Government to instruct

authorities at all levels to end use of the charge of subversion of state power,

which is commonly used as a tool to restrict freedom of expression,” White

said.

 

The IFJ urges the Jixi appeal court to quashed Yuan’s conviction

and investigate the assault on Yuan in detention.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide