Reporters Without Borders today repeated its call for the release of Chinese cyber-dissident Huang Qi, who will spend his 40th birthday in prison on 7 April. His trial for allegedly "trying to overthrow the government" ended more than 18 months ago but no verdict has been announced.
The government said on 2 April that China had made great progress in human rights. But Huang’s family has never been allowed to visit him since he was imprisoned nearly three years ago. Reporters Without Borders has sent a petition signed by 320 people to the Chinese embassy in Paris.
Huang, owner and webmaster of the Internet site www.tianwang.com, was arrested on 3 June 2000, on the eve of the 11h anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre. He was convicted by the first intermediate people’s court of Chengdu (in the southwestern province of Sichuan) for posting on his website articles about the massacre written by exiled dissidents. He had set up the site to put out news about people who had disappeared in China.
He is being held at Chengdu’s detention centre no.1. Former cellmates said he was beaten regularly and denied medicine he needed.
At least 36 cyber-dissidents are in prison in China for posting material on the Internet that the Chinese Communist Party considers "subversive." Many of them have not been tried. Huang is sponsored by the French websites TF1.fr and L’express.fr, as well as the Belgian websites rtbf.be, lesoir.be and the newspaper Coup d’il vers l’avenir.