Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today about the condition of cyber-dissident Zhang Lin (photo), who has been rushed to hospital after beginning a hunger strike at the start of September to protest against his five-year prison sentence and to demand to be allowed to see his lawyer, Mo Shaoping.
Detained since 29 January, Zhang was convicted by a court in Benghu, in Anhui province, on 28 July of “jeopardising national security” by posting reports and essays on the Internet that were “contrary to the bases of the constitution.” At the end of the trial, Zhang and his lawyer indicated they intended to appeal.
Cyber-dissident Zhang Lin gets five years in prison
Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the five-year prison sentence imposed by a court in Benghu (in Anhui province, west of Shanghai) on 28 July on cyber-dissident Zhang Lin for "violating national security." His lawyer was notified only today. Zhang intends to appeal.
"The Chinese judges were deaf to Zhang’s plea of not guilty on the basis of the right to free expression because, in their view, expressing oneself on the Internet is a crime that deserves five years in prison," Reporters Without Borders said, calling for his release and the withdrawal of all charges against him.
"Coming after Shi Tao’s 10-year prison sentence, this latest heavy sentence confirms that the justice system holds freedom of expression in complete contempt and that the crackdown on pro-democracy intellectuals begun by President Hu Jintao continues," the press freedom organisation added.
After Zhang’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, was notified today, his wife immediately went to the court to get a copy of the sentence. She said Zhang, who will also be deprived of his political rights for four years after completion of the prison term, was devastated by the severity of the sentence. He and his lawyer were determined to appeal, she added. They have 10 days starting tomorrow to file the appeal.
Zhang, who has been imprisoned since 29 January 2005, was convicted of posting reports and essays on the Internet which were "contrary to the bases of the constitution" and which "jeopardised national unity and territorial sovereignty, spread lies and disturbed public order and social stability." The sentence was imposed under article 105 of the criminal law on "subversion."
The indictment presented at his trial, held behind closed doors on 21 June, quoted one of his essays in which he used the words of a punk song. The prosecutor also made much of the fact that he gave an interview to a foreign news media.