On 22 December, the people’s supreme court of the northeastern province of Liaoning upheld the seven-year prison sentence that was imposed by a lower court on cyber-dissident Zheng Yichun.
Zheng has not received appropriate treatment for his diabetes since he was imprisoned in December 2004. His family has not been allowed to visit him in prison. The only person who has been able to see him is his lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, who was nonetheless notified on 7 November that he would no longer be able to represent Gao. This left Gao without a lawyer to help him prepare for the appeal hearing.
Seven-year prison sentence for journalist Zheng Yichun puts his life in danger
Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm at a seven-year-prison sentence imposed on journalist Zheng Yichun on 22 September 2005 by a court in Yingkou in northern China following his conviction two months ago for “incitement to subversion”
Zheng, aged 48, whose has been under arrest since 3 December 2004, suffers from diabetes for which he is not receiving any treatment.
"We are very alarmed about Zheng Yichun, whose diabetes could prove fatal if it goes untreated,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said, adding, “The sentence handed down to this journalist is of an inexplicable severity,”
“We also condemn the harassment of his family to prevent them from contacting foreign media. The whole world should know how journalists are treated in China.”
Zheng’s sentence was made public two months after his trial, at which he was convicted of “incitement to subversion” in connection with 63 articles he wrote for foreign-based publications and websites. Zheng’s e-mail messages and telephone conversations with Da Ji Yuan (Epoch Times), linked to the spiritual movement Falungong, were also cited in the verdict.
China’s police tried to prevent the case receiving publicity and stop the family from contacting the international press or human rights organisations. A US journalist who tried to attend the 21 July trial was detained for six hours by local authorities. He was only released after signing a “confession” in which he admitted unauthorised activity on Chinese soil.
Shortly after Zheng’s arrest, family members were threatened with reprisals if they contacted foreign organisations. Despite this, after an article on the case was carried by the daily Yingzhou, they decided to give out information.
Zheng has been held since 20 December 2004 at No 1 jail in Panjin, in Liaoning Province. His family said he suffers from diabetes for which he is not receiving any treatment. His health has deteriorated very rapidly and he has sunk into a depression.
A member of the Korean minority, he has published eight collections of poetry and nearly 200 essays and political articles. Dozens of his articles have been published recently in certain newspapers, including Da Ji Yuan (Epoch Times) and websites such as Boxun and Min Zhu Lun Tan (Democracy Forum), all of them based abroad. Before his arrest, Zheng was also an English professor at the University of Liaoning.