Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
China 1 July 2005

Appeal court upholds ten-year prison sentence against journalist Shi Tao

Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked by the lack of independence of China’s courts and urged European governments to react after a ten-year jail sentence was upheld against journalist Shi Tao for "illegally stealing state secrets abroad".

Shi Tao was shown no mercy by Judge Yang Xueshing of the Hunan Supreme Court in southern China, even though he acknowledged posting articles on the Internet but said he had no intention of jeopardising state security.

The journalist, aged 37, of Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News) in Hunan province, was accused of posting on a foreign-based website an internal message the authorities had sent to his newspaper warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and the risks associated with the return of some dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Supreme Court refused to heed defence arguments that the article put online by Shi was not a state secret. His lawyer insisted that his client’s actions had in no way endangered China’s security.

The prosecutor stressed that Shi had put the country’s security at risk and in exchange for "payment". Sending articles abroad via the Internet was a crime punishable by a prison sentence, he repeated.

"It is staggering to see the lack of independence of Chinese courts, even at the level of the Supreme Court, which only applies the orders of the political police" said Reporters Without Borders. It urged European governments, some of whom have put Shi Tao’s name on their list of prisoners of opinion in China, to step up calls for his release.

Shi Tao is serving his sentence in Changsha Prison in Hunan Province. He was sentenced to ten years by Changsha’s intermediate people’s court on 30 April. He was also deprived of his civil and political rights for two years.

In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed