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China 26 November 2007

Jailed cyber-dissident decides not to appeal against sentence

Cyber-dissident and human rights activist Yang Maodong, who is better known by the pseudonym of Guo Feixiong, decided on 23 November not to appeal against the sentence of five years in prison and a fine of 40,000 yuan (4,000 euros) which he received on 14 November for alleged “illegal business activity.”

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Yang, who is held in Prison No. 3 in the southern city of Guangzhou, decided not to appeal during a meeting with his lawyer, Mo Shaoping. Yang’s wife, Zhang Qing, told RFA that he had instead drafted a four-point proposal for the authorities. “In exchange for his release, he undertakes not to engage in business, not to write his memoirs and not to leave the country for five years.”

He has also urged the government to begin political reforms and has called for “an improvement in the conditions of prisoners of conscience,” who - he says - should be released before the start of next year’s Olympic Games in Beijing.


Cyber-dissident jailed for five years and fined €4,000

Reporters Without Borders strongly condemned a five-year prison sentence and 40,000 yuan (€4,000) fine imposed today by a district court in Tianhe (in the southeastern province of Guangdong) on cyber-dissident Yang Maodong (better known as Guo Feixiong) for “illegal commercial activity.”

“We are shocked by this harsh and unjustified sentence,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The court seems to have acted on local or national-level political instructions. We repeat our demand for Guo’s release before next year’s Beijing Olympic Games.” One of Guo’s lawyers said they would advise him to appeal, since he had always said he was innocent.

His trial began on 9 July after nearly a year of investigations during which he was held in custody. He was tortured during interrogation and in June, his wife Zhang Qing wrote to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. The organisation Human Rights in China said Guo had been kept in bed for several weeks and then prevented from sleeping for some days. He staged a 40-day hunger strike to protest against his conditions of detention.

Guo was officially accused of selling 20,000 books using a bogus publishing reference. His wife said his lack of a licence was just an excuse to hide the fact that the authorities did not like the content of the books. Guo said at the start of his trial that “during my first 10 months in prison, 90% of the 175 interrogations I was subjected to involved human rights issues, so it was clearly political persecution.”

Guo, who is also a human rights activist, has been held in Canton’s number 3 prison since the publication of his book The Political Earthquake in Shenyang, in which he condemns corrupt officials of the city in the northeastern province of Liaoning. He has also posted many articles on the Internet.

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