Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the early release of journalist Wu Shishen from Beijing’s main prison, which took place some time in July as the Chinese justice ministry had said it would late last year. Arrested in October 1992, he had been serving a life sentence.
A onetime journalist with the official news agency Xinhua, Wu will continue to be deprived of his civil and political rights for eight more years - a second sentence that will prevent him from writing articles or speaking in public about matters relating to "national interest."
Although it is hard to get precise information about his present situation, Wu is currently believed to be in Beijing in the company of friends and colleagues who campaigned for him to be freed.
There was also international pressure for his release, and Reporters Without Borders thanked the news media that adopted him under its programme of sponsorship of imprisoned journalists.
Wu was arrested on 26 October 1992 along with his wife, fellow journalist Ma Tao, who spent six years in detention. On the direct orders of then President Jiang Zemin, he was convicted in April 1993 of "illegally divulging state secrets abroad" because he gave a Hong Kong journalist an advance copy of a speech Jiang delivered a few days later.
A total of 31 journalists and 64 cyber-dissidents are currently in prison in China.