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China 18 May 2006

Cyber-dissident Zhang Lin needs immediate hospitalization

Reporters Without Borders today joined the wife of detained cyber-dissident and pro-democracy activist Zhang Lin in calling for his immediate transfer to a public hospital for an operation to a slipped cervical disc that is affecting his central nervous system.

In the opinion of doctors consulted by Zhang’s wife, Fang Cao, the condition will leave him permanently paralysed if it is not properly treated.

Fang told Reporters Without Borders he has been complaining of headaches and pains throughout his body for the past six months, and she has seen for herself how he has difficulty walking and picking things up. “My husband has no strength any more and just talking causes him pain from his head to his feet,” she said.

He has undergone several medical examinations that have confirmed the problem with his spinal column. Fang says the prison “does not have adequate resources for the operation to be carried out properly” and she hopes he will be moved to a public hospital.

Arrested on 29 January 2005, Zhang was convicted of posting articles and essays on the Internet that were “contrary to the bases of the constitution” and “a danger to national security.” His health has worsened steadily since he began an intermittent hunger strike last September in protest against his five-year prison sentence and the conditions in which he is being held. He is currently in Bengbu prison No. 1 in the eastern province of Anhui.

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