04/17/2015, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing, journalist Gao Yu sentenced to seven years for defending human rights

The woman is very famous in the country and in the international community, for her sharp criticism of the political system and Chinese leaders. Convicted of "divulging state secrets", she will appeal. Her brother: "After a year of detention I hardly recognize her. Today she is 71, how can she manage seven years in jail? ". 44 journalists in Chinese prisons.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Beijing’s Intermediate People's Court No. 3 has sentenced the famous journalist Gao Yu, 71, to seven years in prison on charges of "divulging state secrets". The ruling concluded that the reporter had " illegally provided overseas personnel with state secrets." For a year after release, added the judges, the woman cannot enjoy her political rights. The international community and Chinese civil society, have reacted with outrage to the woman’s sentencing, termed "revenge" for her criticisms of top national politicians.

The first hearing against Gao was held in November 2014 also in the capital. Her lawyer Mo Shaoping rejected the charges - a very vague formula, used to silence journalists and dissidents - but could not prevent her being detained.  Her arrest instead took place on April 24, 2014, without a court warrant. Her brother, who attended the trial today, found her "very emaciated and graying, to the point that it was hard to recognize her."

The prosecution founded its case on "Document No. 9", a text written by the Communist Party which orders its executives " counteract seven negative influences for society", of which Gao Yu wrote in March 2014. The "subversive" influences included the concept of Western constitutional democracy and universal values, such as freedom of speech and expression. The document was made public months later by official Party channels. It is important because it shows that Xi Jinping policy is betraying the promises of political reforms that he had made at the beginning of his term, towards a more dictatorial and Maoist path.

According to the brother of the journalist, this ruling "effectively closes her mouth forever. When she gets out of jail she will be almost eighty years old, and what will she do? "Given how her health has deteriorated in just one year, I doubt whether can she hold up until then". Gao’s sentencing  brings to 44 the number of journalists arrested and still in prison by order of the government. According to data from Reporters Without Borders, China is the country with the largest number of journalists in jail in the world.

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