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China 10 July 2007

Cyber-dissident who has been tortured refuses to answer prosecutor in court

The trial of cyber-dissident Guo Feixiong before court No. 11 in the southern city of Guangzhou was adjourned after three hours yesterday morning because of his “unruly” behaviour in court and his refusal to answer questions from the prosecutor. No date has been set for another hearing. He is charged with illegal business activities.

Guo spoke out during the hearing, denying the charges, retracting the confession he previously made under torture, and criticising the court.

“Judging by the fact that 90 per cent of the 175 interrogations to which I have been subjected during my 10 months in detention were about human rights issues, it is clear that this is a case of political persecution,” he told the court.

“I doubt the fairness of this trial because of the presence in the courtroom of two prosecutors against whom I brought complaints and for this reason, I refuse to answer the questions of the court and the prosecutor,” Guo added, prompting the decision to suspend the hearing.

His wife, Zhang Qing, is afraid that his courtroom comments could lead to reprisals against him in the coming days. “It is likely that he will be tortured again,” she said. She wrote to United Nations special rapporteur Manfred Nowak last month accusing her husband’s jailers of torturing him.

His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, fears that the court will decide to make an example of him and impose an extremely severe sentence.

Arrested in September 2006 for criticising the authorities on the Internet and because of his human rights activities, Guo has been repeatedly tortured while in detention. He has filed several complaints without ever getting a response.

29.05.2007 - Cyber-dissident Guo Feixiong given electric shock torture in Shenyang prison

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the continuing mistreatment of detained cyber-dissident Guo Feixiong, who yesterday told his lawyer he was given electric shocks to the hands, face and genitals on 12 February in Shenyang prison in northeastern China and tried to kill himself the next day.

Guo’s wife, Zhang Qing, told Agence France-Presse on 12 January he was being repeatedly tortured while in detention.

A legal adviser who is also known as Yang Maodong, Guo has been held since 14 September 2006. He is officially charged with “illegal business activities” but the real reason for his detention is his human rights activities. He is a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a writers’ organisation, and regularly wrote for news websites.

12.01.07 - Bad start to year for online free expression

There has been a wave of violations of online free expression since the start of the year, Reporters Without Borders said today. A website covering corruption cases was shut down on 8 January, the Sichuan authorities are continuing to enforce an Internet ban on Tibetan poet Woeser, and the wife of Yang Maodong (Guo Feixiong), one of the 50 cyber-dissidents jailed in China, today said he is being regularly tortured.

"The Internet is developing at breakneck speed in China but without any letup in censorship," Reporters Without Borders said. "Both in Beijing and the provinces, the authorities still crack down on those who discuss sensitive political issues online. We are particularly shocked at the report of Guo Feixiong being tortured in prison. China continues to be a police state that sees the Internet as something to be censored and controlled. This must be resisted."

A lawyer held since 14 September 2006, Guo Feixiong is officially charged with "illegal business activities" but the real reason for his detention is his human rights activities. He is a member of the writers’ organisation, the Independent Chinese PEN, and regularly wrote for news websites. His wife, Zhang Qing, told Agence France-Presse he has been repeatedly tortured. She said he had been chained to a bed and beaten for 40 days in a row to make him confess.

The authorities are continuing to enforce an online publication ban on Tibetan writer and poet Woeser, whose blogs were shut down last July. The police in the city of Mingyang, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, ordered a Tibetan website on 7 December to eliminate any reference to her writings.

Finally on 8 January, the police in Xiamen, in the southeastern province of Fujian, closed down, a website founded in 2003 that published news about corruption cases and monitored the activities of local authorities. The police said it published "bad information." One of its recent articles was headlined "Liaoning province committee secretary protects murky forces."

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