China: Anti-censorship blogger sentenced to seven years for “subversion”
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the release of Chinese anti-censorship blogger Ruan Xiaohuan, better known in his country by the pseudonym “Program Think”, who was sentenced in February to a seven years prison sentence.
In the end of March, the wife of Ruan Xiaohuan, a blogger better known by the pseudonym “Program Think”, revealed that her husband was sentenced on 10 February by Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate Court to seven years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power". For twelve years, his personal blog gave advice on how to circumvent China’s Great Firewall of internet censorship, and exposed the regime's malpractices, including corruption. Ruan’s wife, despite the regime's pressure, made a difficult decision of making husband's case public, hoping the media exposure and public attention could help him.
"Ruan Xiaohuan not only helped his fellow citizens to access information on censorship, but also exposed the malpractices of the Chinese Communist Party, including corruption and deserves to be celebrated as a hero and instead of is being harshly persecuted by the regime. We call on the international community to step up its pressure on the Chinese regime so they release Ruan as well as all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in China.
In February, “Program Think”, 46, reappeared in trial for the first time since his forced disappearance in May 2021. He was convicted of having "written more than 100 seditious and defamatory articles''. In addition to the harsh prison sentence, he was also deprived of his political rights for two years, while 20,000 renminbi (2,671 euros) worth of his property was confiscated.
Ruan’s wife noticed that after nearly two years in secret detention, her husband's weight had halved and most of his hair had turned white. In early March, one of his lawyers was denied a prison visit, and notified that two state-assigned legal representatives had instead been appointed by the court.
Mapping of corruption within the party
Launched in 2009, “Program Think” originally published technical advice on cybersecurity on his blog. In time, he started to translate foreign news, compiling data, and producing investigative and political content. In 2016, the blogger published a mapping of the connections and hidden wealth of high-ranking Chinese Communist Party members on Github, exposing the high level of corruption within the regime.
Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he began a crusade against journalism as revealed in RSF’s report The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China, which details Beijing’s efforts to control information and media within and outside its borders.
China ranks 175th out of 180 in the 2022 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists with at least 115 detained.