On December 25, 2018, Sun Lin, a citizen reporter and a former contributor to the US-based Chinese news websiteBoxun, was sentenced to four years jail for "inciting subversion of state power” by the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court. According to authorities, Sun did not appear in court as he was ‘emotionally unstable’. Sun was arrested and detained in November 2016, and sentenced following a trial in February 2018. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders Sun was originally arrested for ‘picking quarrels’ as he took photos outside during the trial of another activist. The charges were later upgraded due to social media posts he shared relating to democracy or politics.
On December 28, Zhen Jianghua, executive director of Human Rights Campaign in China, was sentenced to two years in prison by the Zhuhai Court (Guangdong), also under the charge of "inciting subversion of state power”. Zhen was arrested in September 2017, and his trial secretly took place in August 2018, when it was unsure if he had legal representation. Zhen had been detained for more than six months in a ‘black jail’ under the government’s ‘residential surveillance in a designated location (RDSL)’ program. During this time he has been unable to meet his lawyer or have contact with families and friends.
Ding Linjie, editor of the human rights news website Minsheng Guancha (Civic Rights and Livelihood Watch), was also sentenced to 20 months in prison on December 28. The Shijingshan District Court in Beijing sentenced Ding for ‘disturbing social order’. The charges are allegedly related to a satirical video she shared of China’s President, Xi Jinping.
The IFJ said: “The sentencing of Sun, Zhen and Ding illustrates the ongoing government-led crackdown on freedom of expression and free speech in China. The lack of transparency in the legal process raises serious questions about the rights of each of them to a fair and free trial. The IFJ reiterates its calls to the Government to end the crackdown on freedom of expression and support free speech across China.”