CRD deplores criminalizing free expression, demands release of journalist

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CRD Release, May 16, 2006
CRD deplores criminalizing free expression,
demands release of journalist Li Yuanlong

CRD has confirmed reports that Li Yuanlong, a journalist at Bijie Daily in Guizhou Province, was tried for “subversion of state power” at the Bijie Intermediate People’s Court on May 11. CRD views the trial as yet another instance of the use of “rule by law” to repress free expression on the Internet. The trial was seriously flawed due to restricted access and the admission of a coerced “confession” as evidence. CRD believes that the only verdict that would be in accordance with the Chinese Constitution and human rights standards is a finding of not guilty, and urges the Bijie Court to exercise its independence and pronounce such a verdict.

The Chinese government, now a member of the UN Human Rights Council, has pledged to protect human rights at home and uphold the highest standards of human rights. This trial is a test of these commitments. Government authorities at all levels should not interfere in the judicial process or insist on conviction of Li, who is being tried only for exercising his right to free expression, and should allow the judicial authorities to adjudicate the case independently and in accordance with the rights guarantees in China’s Constitution.

As CRD has reported (see China Human Rights Briefing, May 1-4, 2006), some 20 family members, friends, and activists tried to attend the court hearing, but were prevented from doing so. The court only issued two permits to family members to attend the trial, and told the others that all seats were full. After strong protests against this, four activists, including Zhao Xin, Chen Xi, Wu Yuqin, and Liao Shuanyuan were let in. The trial started at 9:00am and ended at 4:30pm. The court recessed without announcing a verdict after hearing the not-guilty defense by two lawyers (Li Jianqiang and Chen Shenghua).

Those attending the trial told Boxun that the trial appeared procedurally correct. But a “confession” titled “My Anti-Party and Anti-Socialist Confession” signed by Li during his interrogation was produced as evidence by prosecutors in court. This “confession” is thought to be the outcome of ill-treatment and intimidation, including a one-week detention of the defendant’s 16-year-old son and a 10-day detention of his wife in a police-controlled hotel. The lawyers argued that such a “confession” obtained through the use of coercion should not be admissible as evidence.

Li Yuanlong, known as “the night wolf” (ye lang), posted articles critical of the Chinese government on overseas websites. He was arrested in September 2005, and charged with subversion on February 9, 2006. His trial date had been changed several times, first from April 7 to April 24, then to April 19. However, one day before the trial was due to open on April 19, the court announced it had been postponed to May 8. On the morning of May 8, his defense lawyers were informed of a further postponement to May 10. (See Full text of the lawyer Li Jianqiang’s defense statement in Chinese at: Article_Show.asp?ArticleID=1170 )

For more information, please contact:

Renee Xia


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