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China 22 October 2003

Cyber-dissident Luo Yongzhong sentenced to three years in prison

Reporters Without Borders called today on Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao to release cyber-dissident Luo Yongzhong, who was given a three-year jail sentence for subversion on 14 October for posting articles on the Internet "attacking the socialist system." He would also be stripped of his civil rights for two years after the end of his sentence.

"The Chinese authorities are still punishing cyber-dissidents very harshly," said the press freedom organisation’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard. "It is unacceptable that Western leaders do not raise with the top Chinese officials they meet regularly this campaign by the country’s courts to stifle the Internet."

"China continues to accuse those simply expressing their opinions online of espionage and terrorism. As the China Year in France begins this month, the French government must take a firm stand on human rights in that country."

The court said the articles posted by Luo were an incitement to subversion and had a bad effect on society. He has published more than 150 articles commenting on current events, some of them denouncing former President Jiang Zemin’s "triple representation" principle. His writings also attacked the government directly, according to the organisation Human Rights in China.

Luo, who sold beer and cigarettes in the northeastern city of Changchun, was arrested on 13 June by provincial state security police, who seized written material and computer equipment at his home, where he lived with his brother.

Thirty-eight people people are in prison in China for posting material on Internet websites and discussion forums.

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