The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is appalled that a Chinese court has jailed a legal
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several unpublished articles and his interviews with the media.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inciting subversion of state power on the basis of several unpublished articles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ludicrous, especially in a case where the evidence is unpublished notes,” IFJ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
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
The IFJ urges the Jixi appeal court to quashed Yuan’s conviction
and investigate the assault on Yuan in detention.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide