11/19/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Set to go on trial in Beijing, Gao Yu claims innocence, blames her "confession" on threats

Her trial for "leaking state secrets" is set to start on Friday. Police is accused of getting the 70-year-old journalist to confess by threatening her son. Ongoing arrests and trials indicate that Xi Jinping's crackdown continues.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Journalist and activist Gao Yu, who goes on trial in a Beijing court on Friday for revealing state secrets, insists that she is innocent and that her "confession" was made under duress.

The veteran journalist, 70, told judges and prosecutors at a pre-trial meeting on Monday that her "confession" to police earlier this year was to protect her son and family, lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

Gao has been under arrest since 24 April for having "leaking state secrets abroad", in particular a confidential Communist Party document.

Her son, Zhao Meng, was detained on the same charge but later released.

Her lawyer, Mo Shaoping, reports that her client's "confession" was made when she was under pressure and was done "against her will when threats were made against her son".

What is more, her statement was aired on national television in early May without her consent in an attempt to influence public opinion and the trial.

Gao, who has already served seven years in prison for her writings, could get a maximum of 15 years' imprisonment, although five- to 10-year sentences are common.

Some months ago, the magazine Mingjing Monthly, which publishes her articles, referred to Document 9, a Communist Party memo, listing seven subversive perils Communist party officials must resist, including "Western constitutional democracy" and "universal values" like freedom of speech and respect of human rights.

The document, which was later released through Party channels, shows that Xi Jinping is falling short of the promises of political reform he made when he took office and is taking instead a dictatorial turn.

Indeed, the government's iron-fist policy against dissidents is reflected in its attempts to prevent any public remembrance of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. For this occasion, the authorities detained a number of intellectuals and activists who, like Gao, were preparing to mark the tragic event.

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