Chinese Journalist Sentenced 10 Years

Shi Tao, a Chinese writer, poet, and artist, was sentenced to 10 years in jail today for passing “national secrets”:

Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was on Saturday sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for being found guilty of illegally providing top state secrets to overseas organizations.

The ruling was handed down by the Intermediate People’s Court of Changsha City, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, at the first trial.


Shi, 37, who was employed by the Contemporary Business News published in Changsha, from Feb. 11, 2004 to April 22, 2004, was also deprived of his political rights for two years, court source ssaid.

The court was told that the main contents of a certain important document were read out at an internal meeting of the editorial board of the Contemporary Business News last April, with a special warning saying the contents were classified and should not be spread further.

Shi, who was then head of the central editor desk with the newscenter of the newspaper, attended the internal meeting and took notes. On the same day after the meeting, Shi sent the main contents of the document aboard via e-mail and had it published in an overseas publication. The e-mail was picked up time and again by several overseas Internet portals.

Shi Tao, a chinese journalist, was sentenced this week to 10 years in jail.

Shi was arrested in November of last year for “passing on national secrets” via email:

Mr. Shi was taken away at his home in Taiyuan, the capital city of northwest Shanxi Province, by the police from National Security Bureau of Changsha, Hunan Province in the southern China, on November 24, 2004, without showing an arrest warrant. The security police, headed by a department head Mr. Zhang, also took Shi’ s computer, writings and other personal belongings. Shi’s wife, Wang Yuan, was threatened of possible serious consequence if she revealed Shi’s arrest to media. On December 2, the police of National Security Bureau in Taiyuan showed Wang an email copy of Criminal Detention Certificate from Changsha, which charged Shi Tao of “suspicion of leaking national security” and returned several his personal belongings, among them, a bank record. Wang asked the police to pass a written note to Shi. However, she was told that Shi was held incommunicado. Shi’s whereabouts is still unknown.

The “state secrets” Shi Tao disclosed was actually a document describing the Tiananmen Square massacre:

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the charge of “illegally divulging state secrets abroad” that was brought against journalist and poet Shi Tao on 28 January for posting an official document relating to the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on a foreign website. Shi, who has been detained since November, faces a sentence of between three years and life imprisonment if convicted.

The press freedom organization said it was “absolutely scandalous” that China has imprisoned a journalist for trying to inform people around the world about Tiananmen at a moment when the European Union is considering lifting the arms embargo that was imposed after the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators.

This shows how forcefully the Chinese Communist Party opposes any democratic opening, Reporters Without Borders said, announcing that it will ask for Shi’s case to be raised at the next EU-China dialogue meeting on 24-25 February in Luxembourg.

His Family and friends are concerned for his safety while imprisoned:

ICPC is afraid that Shi Tao may be at risk of ill treatment in detention, and demands assurance that he be given immediate access to legal representation as well as family visits. ICPC calls for Shi Tao’s immediate and unconditional release if he is held solely for the legitimate practice of his profession, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

His trial was held on March 11th but the verdict was not released to the media until this morning:

The secret trial of a dissident journalist charged with illegally revealing state secrets ended yesterday with the court expected to hand down a minimum jail sentence of 10 years, family members said.

Shi Tao’s trial lasted two hours yesterday morning and a verdict was expected to be announced within 15 days, his brother, Shi Hua, said.

Some 25 journalists and 62 cyberdissidents are currently imprisoned in China as of December 2004.

More on China’s crackdown on journalists here , here and here.

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