Gao Yu (高瑜)

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Gao Yu (高瑜)

Gao Yu 高瑜

(released on medical parole)

*Previously under medical watch

Gao Yu高瑜

Crime: Illegally disseminating state secrets overseas

Length of Punishment: Seven years

Court: Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court

Trial Date: November 21, 2014

Sentencing Date: April 17, 2015

Dates of Detention/Arrest: April 24, 2014 (detained); May 30, 2014 (arrested); November 26, 2015 (released on parole)

Verdict: Beijing No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court Criminal Verdict (Chinese)

Appeal court: Beijing Higher People’s Court

Appeal hearing date: November 26, 2015

Appeal hearing ruling: upheld original ruling, reduced sentence to five years imprisonment, 1 year deprivation of political rights

Date of birth: February 23, 1944

Medical Condition(s): heart disease, high blood pressure, Meniere’s disease (an inner ear condition), chronic skin allergy, tenosynovitis

Place of Incarceration: Beijing No. 1 Detention Center (detention); home (parole)


Beijing-based dissident journalist Gao Yu (高瑜) disappeared in late April 2014, during the suppression around the June Fourth anniversary, as she was preparing to submit a piece to Deutsche Welle, the German broadcaster. It was later made public through Chinese state television that Gao has been criminally detained on charges of “leaking state secrets” to an organization overseas. The charges against Gao accuse her of leaking a Communist Party directive against “universal values,” widely disseminated and referred to as Document No. 9, to an overseas website in June 2013; however the website denied Gao leaked them the document, and attempted to file an affadavit with the court testifying to this fact, but it was refused. Authorities released brief video on May 8, 2014 with footage of Gao confessing, a confession she later recanted. At a pre-trial meeting in November 2014, Gao stated that the confession was made under duress. She told judges and prosecutors that police made threats against her son, Zhao Meng (赵萌), who had been disappeared and then criminally detained. She also said that she was videotaped without her knowledge that it would be broadcasted on national television. Zhao was later released on bail in May 2014, after the video of Gao Yu’s forced confession was aired. On the day of her trial, police forcibly took her son and brother to another province in order to prevent them from showing up at the hearing. On November 26, 2015, Gao Yu lost her appeal, but the appeal court reduced her sentence to five years imprisonment, with one year deprivation of political rights, and the court from the first-instance trial granted her medical parole due to serious illnesses.

Gao Yu was 70 at the time she was taken into police custody in April 2014, and already suffering from a number of ailments. Her health has worsened since then, in part because police interrogated her almost everyday for the first two months of her detention and due to detention center conditions; she reported to her lawyers she frequently catches colds. Her lawyer Shang Baojun (尚宝军) reported she had been hospitalized in late February to early March 2015 due to a gastrointestinal disease caused by unsanitary food in the detention center. He reported she was on a drip for three days and in late March was still suffering from inflammation in her digestive system.

In June 2015, her lawyers reported that she is suffering from regular and severe heart pains, but has only received traditional Chinese medicine, and that she has a worsening chronic skin allergy. She continues to receive daily medication for high blood pressure. In July, she reportedly told her son that her left arm was numb. The detention center hospital diagnosed her as suffering from tenosynovitis, a tendon inflammation, and gave her painkillers and an anti-inflammatory drug. After a lawyers’ visit on July 28, Gao Yu said she had recently been sent for a hospital check-up. Doctors found blockages in her arteries and a lump in her lymph node but won’t know if it is cancerous unless she has further tests. According to her lawyers, authorities are pressuring her to confess her guilt on television in order to be released. She was also told to dismiss her lawyers Shang and Mo Shaoping (莫少平) but refused. In mid-October, authorities delayed her appeal for the third time, for three months, upon approval from the Supreme People’s Court. Gao reportedly told her lawyer, “Are they planning to keep me in jail until I die?”

One month after Gao’s arrest, Chinese media regulators published a new set of rules to govern the use of information, barring media workers from obtaining and disseminating information deemed “state secrets,” a catch-all provision that allows authorities to arbitrarily and retroactively apply the law on guarding state secrets. The same ill-defined laws were used against Gao Yu in 1993, when she was arrested and a year later sentenced to six years in prison. As retaliation for her articles critical of the government and for supporting the 1989 pro-democracy protests, Gao was barred from publishing in China. She was detained during the Tiananmen crackdown and released 15 months later due to health problems.

Born in 1944, Gao Yu became a reporter in 1979 at China’s second largest state-controlled news agency. She later worked as a freelance reporter for various mainland and Hong Kong newspapers. After her release from detention following the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Gao actively help promote the stories of Tiananmen Mothers, a group of activists who lost their family members during the crackdown, to the international community. Following her release from prison in 1999, Gao Yu continued to write articles, essays, and commentaries, remaining critical and outspoken in her work with the hope of safeguarding press freedoms.

*CHRD’s Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention

Further Information

[CHRB] Convictions & Sentences Follow Detainee Mistreatment, Flawed Trials (11/23-12/3/2015)

[CHRB] China Must Free Journalist Gao Yu and Others Detained during June Fourth Anniversary Crackdown as They Face Trial (11/15-20/2014)

CHRD Letter to UN Legal Expert Regarding Deprivation of Detainees’ Right to Legal Counsel – August 18, 2014

“Individuals Affected by Government Crackdown Around 25th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre,” May 29, 2014, CHRD

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