On Monday, July 29th, the Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan Province sentenced Chinese investigative journalist Huang Qi, 56 years-old, to 12 years in prison for leaking state secrets and providing state secrets abroad, which was preceded by a 2-year detention and a closed trial on January 14th. The journalist, 2004 RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate and founder of civil-rights information website 64 Tianwang, winner of the same prize in 2016, is in reality punished for his commitment to reporting human rights violations by certain Chinese officials.
“This decision is equivalent to a death sentence, considering Huang Qi’s health has already deteriorated from a decade spent in harsh confinement,” says Christophe Deloire, the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who urges President Xi Jinping "to show mercy by exercising his power to pardon, so that Huang Qi can be released before it is too late.”
In a statement published on December 20th by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), following a petition by RSF, four UN human rights experts called for his release. The document noted that the jailed Chinese journalist was in a dire health condition that would “continue to deteriorate to a fatal point” if he stayed in detention, where he suffered from ill treatment and lack of appropriate medical care.
In 2017, Nobel Peace Prize and RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and the dissident blogger Yang Tongyan both died from cancer that was left untreated in detention, and several other journalists and bloggers are likely to suffer a similar fate.
China is currently holding more than 114 journalists behind bars and is ranked 177th out of 180 in the RSF 2019 World Press Freedom Index.