Beijing (AsiaNews) - The health of journalist Gao Yu has taken a turn for the worse after she was jailed for leaking state secrets. The 71-year-old woman suffers from regular severe heart pain.
"She was strong and spirited, but she was thin and suffering from heart pain," said her brother Gao Wei yesterday after he visited her on Wednesday.
Sentenced to seven years in April after she was convicted of giving state secrets to non-Chinese, Gao has only received Chinese medicine to deal with each attack, and has not been given regular treatment for her heart condition.
Gao has a long history of heart disease and high blood pressure and suffers from a chronic skin allergy. Her heart problems started 25 years ago when she was held in police custody because of her pro-reform writings and her involvement in the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement.
Known for her sharp criticism of China’s political system and hard-hitting reports on elite politics, she was jailed for the third time two months ago.
She had been arrested in April 2014 for allegedly leaking state secrets to the US-based Chinese-language magazine Mingjing Monthly.
Forced to make a confession on state television in May last year just before her trial, she later told prosecutors it was extracted under coercion when threats were made against her son and family.
The case against her is centred on Document No 9, an internal party memo that orders party officials to tackle seven subversive influences on society, including "Western constitutional democracy" and "universal values" such as human rights and free speech. However, both Gao and Mingjing Monthly denied the charge.
Gao's lawyer Shang Baojun, who confirmed that she was suffering from heart pain, said that she had appealed her sentence. The latter’s outcome should be known later this month.
Shang also said that he had new evidence from Mingjing founder Ho Pin to prove that Gao was innocent and would be submitting the new information to the court next week.
Gao You was jailed for 15 months on the eve of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, and was placed under custody again in 1993 for six years for including state secrets in her political writing.
One Gao's most influential pieces in recent years was an article she wrote in January 2013 in which she reported an internal speech by President Xi Jinping who complained that the Soviet Union collapsed because "nobody was man enough to stand up and resist".
From that, she concluded that Xi's priority was not to pursue political reform but to restore Mao Zedong's legitimacy and uphold the Communist regime's one-party rule.