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China Jail 71 Years Old Journalist For Leaking State Secret
China continued its crackdown on journalists with the jailing of 71 years old veteran journalist Gao Yu for exposing state secrets. She was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
After a trial in November last year, which focused more on the prosecution than her defence, Goa’s supporters were hopeful that she would be released after the No. 3 Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing twice postponed delivering a verdict.
Her lawyer said she would appeal because her conviction was based on a forced confession, was broadcast without her knowledge and which she has since retracted. Goa said she confessed to revealing the “Document No. 9” because her son, who was also in jail then, was threatened.
The document revealed China’s plan to clampdown on press freedom, civil rights, judicial independence, and advocates of democracy.
“The verdict is very disappointing and unjust. Gao Yu said she would appeal and we will submit our appeal to the court within 10 days,” her lawyer, Shang Baojun, told The Guardian.
“This is a totally wrong judgment that doesn’t respect the facts or the evidence,” her defence added.
“There is no defence against state secret charges in China, anything the Party or the government want to label as state secrets will be labeled and treated as such — they can even do it retroactively,” Amnesty International, the global human rights body, observed.
Gao was arrested in April of 2014 for revealing the secret to a foreign media a year earlier. Mirror Media Group, which first published texts of the document, denied receiving the document from Gao.
The Mirror’s Ho Pin, who was alleged to have received the document from Gao, sent a written testament denying receiving the document from Goa but the court refused to use it.
“Her sentencing is in line with the very stern approach President Xi Jinping’s team has taken on dissent, information control and challenges to the Party,” Nicholas Bequelin of Amnesty International said.
Gao is an outspoken journalist who began her career in 1979 with Chinese News Service. She was first arrested in 1989 and released after a year. She was accused of leaking state secrets in 1993 and jailed for six years.