China Jails Activist Writer, Another to Seek US Asylum

Posted January 19th, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Chinese writer and democracy activist Li Tie has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after writing a series of essays urging citizens to defend their rights.

A relative of the activist says Li was found guilty of “subversion of state power” earlier this week by a court in central China.

The relative says Li maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and the court refused to allow him to choose his own attorney.

In a separate development, Chinese dissident writer Yu Jie says he will seek asylum in the United States, after undergoing torture in 2010 by police in his homeland because of his close association with jailed Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Yu, speaking Wednesday in Washington, says he was detained several times in the past year and beaten so badly that he passed out. He also said he can no longer publish any work in China.

“Ever since Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao took office in 2004, I have been completely banned in China, I cannot publish any work, neither articles nor books. Other people are also barred from mentioning me in their public articles.

Yu also said he intends to write about Liu Xiaobo and about President Hu, despite facing jail time for doing so.

Wang Songlian of the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders group tells VOA that Li Tie was jailed for posting online articles that criticized the government and promoted democracy.

“He was taken away by police quite a long time ago. And then he was tried in April last year and was not given a sentence until many months later, which was yesterday.”

Li is the third Chinese dissident in less than a month to receive a lengthy prison sentence on charges of inciting subversion. In December, Chinese courts gave a nine year prison sentence to veteran democracy activist Chen Wei and jailed fellow activist Chen Xi for 10 years after they posted online articles that the government deemed subversive.

U.S. Ambassador to Beijing Gary Locke said Monday that China's human-rights record is deteriorating in the face of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East. He said China's human-rights climate is “in a down period and it is getting worse.”

But China's foreign ministry rejected the claim. It said that Beijing respects human rights and is only arresting those in violation of Chinese law.