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China 16 June 2005

Cyberdissident Zhang Lin to go on trial for posting articles including lyrics to a punk song

Reporters Without Borders has protested against the seriousness of charges laid against Zhang Lin, whose closed-doors trial is to be held on 21 June 2005.

"How can posting articles online, in particular the lyrics of a punk song, constitute a threat to national security? It is absurd!" the organisation said.

According to Human Rights in China (HRIC), the cyberdissident is facing life imprisonment. The charge sheet drawn up by the prosecutor says that the content of the articles posted by Zhang "opposed the basic principles of the Constitution, damaged national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, spread falsehoods, disturbed social order and damaged social stability".

The charge quotes the words of a song by the Chinese punk group Pangu, posted online by Zhang.

Zhang was arrested on 29 January at Bengbu station in Anhui province, west of Shanghai as he was returning from Beijing, where he went hoping to present his condolences to the family of Zhao Ziyang, former Chinese communist party leader who died shortly beforehand.

Zhang is currently being held in Bengbu’s Number 1 Detention Centre, where Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about his state of health and prison conditions. He has undertaken two hunger strikes to protest at the ill-treatment he has been suffering.

His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, has not been allowed to visit him and the court has rejected his request for his trial to be held in public.

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