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China 28 April 2005

Dissident journalist Chen Yanbin released after more than 14 years in prison

Reporters Without Borders noted the release on 12 April, of Chen Yanbin, co-editor of the dissident review Tielu (Iron Currents), after 14 years and seven months imprisonment in Beijing. The journalist remains deprived of his civil and political rights for the next four years.

According to the Independent Chinese Pen Center (ICPC), a former student in communications and foreign languages at Beifang University, Chen, now aged 38, was able to return to his home in the capital after being released from Beijing’s prison no. 2.

He and a colleague Zhang Yafei were sentenced in March 1991 to 15 years in prison for "incitement to rebellion" and "spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda" in an underground magazine that was distributed in Beijing.

"It is unforgivable that the authorities should only have allowed Chen Yanbin a few months reduction in sentence for an offence of opinion," said Reporters Without Borders.

"Depriving him of his civil and political rights demonstrates that the government still seeks to prevent intellectuals from speaking out, particularly on the Beijing Spring of 1989".

Chen was ill-treated in 1993 and put into solitary confinement after supporting a protest by prisoners who were refusing to work more than eight hours a day.

Elsewhere, cyberdissident Yan Jun was released on 4 April from a prison in Xian, north-west China. According to the ICPC, he has been able to return home and is in good health. Yan was arrested in April 2003 and sentenced to two years in prison on 8 December the same year for calling for a review of the sentence against students arrested after the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Dissident journalist Liu Jingsheng, who was freed on 27 November 2004, was on 18 April prevented from holding a press conference for the Information Centre for the rights of Chinese citizens, which he had just set up. Human Rights in China said the authorities had told him to shut down the organisation. Liu is also denied his civil and political rights after being released two and a half years before the end of his sentence.

The worldwide press freedom organisation pointed out that at least 31 journalists and 64 cyberdissidents and Internet-users are still imprisoned in China.

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