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China 23 December 2003

Crackdown deepens on the Internet
A new arrest and a court dismisses a call for an appeal hearing

Reporters Without Borders has expressed its growing concern as a crackdown on the Internet shows signs of worsening.

Factory worker Kong Youping, 48, was arrested on 13 December for posting political articles and poems on a foreign web site. On 20 December, Beijing’s number one court dismissed an application for an appeal by He Depu, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on 6 November for "publishing essays calling for subversion." "Kong Youping and He Depu have done no more than give their opinion through the medium of the Internet. We are once again confronted by completely arbitrary decisions, which deprive cyberdissidents of their right to justice," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of the international press freedom organisation. In a letter to the minister of public security Zhou Yongkang, Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate release of Kong and for He to have the right to challenge the appeal decision.

A factory employee at Anshan, in the north east, Kong was arrested for posting five articles and seven poems on a foreign site since June, calling for a review of the events of the Beijing Spring and an end to corruption among political officials. He also called for the release of the young Internet-user Liu Di, who was recently freed on bail. Five police officers came to arrest him at his home and his computer was seized. The Hong Kong-based information centre of human rights and democracy said his daughter has called for a public campaign in his support. Kong is the 48th Chinese person to be arrested for posting items on the Internet.

Elsewhere, the court number one in Beijing turned down He’s call for an appeal. The cyberdissident, who was jailed for eight years on 6 November, has now exhausted all legal avenues to get his sentenced overturned. He, who was tried on 14 October, was accused of collaborating with the Chinese Democratic Party and having posted messages on the Internet "inciting people to subversion". He was one of the activists who signed an open letter on 20 November 2002 urging the Chinese authorities to introduce political reforms.

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