To coincide with World Press Freedom Day 2015, the IFJ is running a campaign to secure the release of veteran Chinese journalist, Gao Yu. The IFJ and its affiliates have written to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for the release of veteran journalist Gao Yu. It calls on all its affiliates to back a letter to Chinese authorities asking for Gao Yu’s immediate release.
Gao Yu, 71, was arrested in Beijing on April 24, 2014, on charges of illegally obtaining state secrets and sharing them with foreign media. It understood that the leaked document outlined the leadership’s plans to aggressively curb civil society and press freedom. Gao was subsequently charged and held in detention until her trial in November, 2014. The closed-door trial lasted four hours, during which the prosecution relied on a recorded confession by Gao which, as she disclosed during her trial, was obtained when police threatened the arrest her son. During the trial, Gao pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charge. Her sentencing was delayed on two occasions, however on 17th April the verdict came down sentencing her to seven years imprisonment.
The IFJ said: “The guilty verdict against Gao is an outrageous attack on the media and the public’s right to know. The handing down of the sentence of seven years is an appalling response by a government that is intent on controlling the media and civil society and is clearly trying to send a message to the media and independent journalists that if they don’t toe the party line they will suffer the consequences – regardless of the constitutional commitments to freedom of expression. ”
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On April 30, the IFJ and its affiliates sent a letter to the President of China, Xi Jinping, the Premier of China, Li Keqiang, the President of the Supreme People's Court of China, Zhou Qiang and the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Cao Jianming calling for Gao Yu's immediate release.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the undersigned IFJ affiliates write regarding the sentencing of veteran journalist Gao Yu on April 17. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), represents more than 600,000 journalists in 134 countries.
Gao Yu has already been incarcerated for 12 months, despite strong international condemnation from the IFJ, IFEX and other international press freedom organisations. This is not the first instance in which Gao has been arrested and dealt a heavy sentence in China. Yet the manner in which her confession was gained questions the role of the police in this case.
The IFJ and its affiliates impress upon you that any journalist who face China’s judicial system should be guaranteed a free and fair trial, which cannot be said for Gao Yu. In addition to Gao’s coerced confession, the definition of state secret and the document which Gao shared brings a degree of uncertainty to the case. It is apparent that the document for which she was charged was already quasi-public having been shared in a number of provinces prior to Gao’s involvement. Even if the Communist Party’s Document No 9 were a secret document, it could not be a state secret, but rather a secret of the Communist Party.
As the President and Premier of the People’s Republic of China you have the power to order the immediate release of Gao and end the case against her, which given her current medical conditions, including heart disease, is absolutely necessary.
China is the second largest economy in the world, with a large number of foreign journalists working within its borders. Gao’s case raises serious questions about China’s judicial system, and has tarnished the reputation of the People’s Procuratorate and the People’s Court of China in the eyes of the global community.
The IFJ 2014 China’s Media War: Censorship, Corruption & Control Report highlighted a number of the challenges that continue to face journalists and media workers in China. The country now holds the title as the largest jailer of journalists in the world.
We call on you to act immediately to follow the principle of the rule of law for press freedom enshrined in Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.
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If you wish to send your own letter calling for Gao Yu's release, you can find a letter template here with addresses.
Contact: Alex Hearne
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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