China Imprisons Journalist Gao Yu
In response to the Chinese government sentencing prominent journalist Gao Yu to seven years imprisonment on charges of “leaking state secrets,” Freedom House issued the following statement:
“We condemn the politically motivated charges, trial and imprisonment of Gao Yu, who was convicted for bringing to light critical information on the party’s policy about law and human rights,” said Mark P. Lagon, president. “For Gao, who is 71, this could effectively be life imprisonment. Her televised confession and ludicrous sentencing are reminders that despite Xi Jinping’s rhetoric about promoting the ‘rule of law,’ China’s judges report to one authority – the Chinese Communist Party."
“We urge the U.S. and European governments to take note of the officials behind Gao’s prosecution and consider refusing all official contact with them, and denying them visas for travel to the West,” Lagon said.
Gao Yu was detained in April 2014 and tried in November. She appeared on state broadcaster China Central Television confessing to “leaking state secrets.” She was accused of providing an overseas Chinese news website with a copy of Document Number 9, a party memo urging tighter ideological control and warning against promotion of democratic hallmarks like judicial independence, media freedom, and civil society. Gao and the overseas site subsequently denied her having sent the document.
In January 2013, Gao publicized an internal speech of Xi’s taking a hardline on defending the one-party regime. The documents were among the first signs to Chinese civil society and the international community of an increase in repression and tighter media controls, features of Xi’s leadership since he assumed the helm of the party in November 2012.
China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, and Not Free in the Freedom of the Net 2014. The crackdown under Xi and its implications for the party’s hold on power was the subject of a recent Freedom House special report The Politburo’s Predicament.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.