A veteran Chinese journalist was sentenced to seven years in prison for leaking state secrets, a move condemned by rights group as an effort to curb criticism of the regime.
Gao Yu, 71, denied the charges and told the Beijing court that she would appeal, her lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said after today’s sentencing.
Gao was detained in April last year during a crackdown on dissent before the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. She was accused of providing a document from the Central Committee of the Communist Party to an unidentified overseas website, the official Xinhua News Agency reported at the time.
Gao’s verdict came as Chinese authorities tighten control over the press and step up curbs on the Internet as part of President Xi Jinping’s clampdown on dissent. A prominent human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, is also under police detention and is awaiting prosecution.
“This deplorable sentence against Gao Yu is nothing more than blatant political persecution by the Chinese authorities,” William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “She is the victim of vaguely worded and arbitrary state-secret laws that are used against activists as part of the authorities’ attack on freedom of expression.”
Gao appeared on China’s Central Television in May of last year to confess her crimes, according to a copy of the video posted online. She expressed “deep regret” and will accept punishment, Xinhua said.
She made the confession under duress after authorities threatened to arrest her son, Mo said.
Gao was sentenced to six years in jail in 1993 on similar charges. She was released early for medical reasons.
— With assistance by Keith Zhai