IFJ calls for the removal of coerced evidence in journalist trial in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written an open letter to the President of the Supreme People's Court of China, Zhou Qiang, and the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, Cao Jianming, urging them to uphold the rule of law in the trial of veteran journalist Gao Yu.

Gao Yu, who was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 1997, was arrested in Beijing in April on a charge of illegally obtaining state secrets. Gao was accused of releasing a Communist Party document to an overseas online media outlet. It has been widely reported that the document was the Central Committee’s Document No. 9, which warns against the “seven perils”, including universal values, civil society, and a free press.

According to various media reports, Gao’s defence lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has said the Procuratorate compelled Gao to confess she had released the document by threatening to prosecute her son. Mo has demanded that the court reject all illegally obtained evidence. At a hearing on Friday, Gao pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In the open letter, the IFJ reiterates that Gao’s prosecution is wrong. We remind Zhou Qiang, President of the Supreme People's Court of China, and Cao Jianming, Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, to uphold the principle of rule of law. The Chinese government has said repeatedly that China is governed by rule of law and people should abide by law. The IFJ agrees with the direction in which China is moving and hopes that China’s efforts will succeed. However, we also hope China will truly understand the meaning of the rule of law and accept that the government does not stand above any law or statute.

In the open letter, the IFJ said: “The IFJ totally disagrees with Gao’s prosecution. We strongly believe Gao was exercising her duty as a journalist to report on issues of great public conern. We urge President Zhou and Procurator-General Cao to uphold Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution, which enshrines the people’s right to freedom of expression and the principle of the rule of law."

The IFJ urges all judges and officers of the Procuratorate who are acting in Gao’s case to excise any evidence that was acquired under duress and to ensure that the case is tried fairly and properly. 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific