February 18, 2005 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Cyber-dissident tortured to stop him appealing against 12-year prison sentence

As a Chinese delegation was attending a preparatory meeting in Geneva for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Reporters Without Borders said today it has obtained new information about the torture of Chinese cyber-dissident Huang Jinqiu, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for "subversion." The press freedom organization said it was shocked by the torture and beating of this young, pro-democracy activist in prison and by an attempt to put him in a psychiatric institute against his will. And it said it was outraged that Chinese diplomats were able to strut around at the WSIS meeting while this was going on. According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the prison authorities got tough with Huang after he began preparing to file a new appeal against his conviction. The original appeal, filed on his behalf by his lawyer, was rejected by a court in Nanjing (in Jiangsu province) without a hearing being held. The authorities have done everything possible to break him physically and psychologically in an attempt to dissuade him from taking the case to the supreme court. In mid-December, they tried to commit him to a psychiatric hospital but the hospital's doctors refused to play along. The prison authorities then assigned him to a "severe restriction" regime in Pukou prison in Nanjing. He has been put in a cell with non-political prisoners where he has often been beaten by his cellmates on the orders of the guards. He has also been forced to run more than 20 km each day in the prison yard and is beaten if he stops before completing the distance. He has also been deprived of reading material for several weeks and his lawyer's letters are often intercepted. His lawyer, Thomas Guo, confirmed that during a visit on January 17 Huang showed the marks of torture and was very demoralized. He broke into tears twice during their interview, which was monitored by guards. A few days later, Guoting received a letter from his client asking him not to go ahead with the appeal to the supreme court. Huang Jinqiu, a regular contributor to the website Boxun, was arrested on 13 September 2003 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province in the east of the country. His family had no news of him for several months and only learned in January 2004 that he was being held in Changzhou jail. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail for "subversion" on 27 September. Born in 1974, Huang worked as a journalist for several newspapers of which the best known was Yangcheng Wanbao. It was while continuing his journalism studies in Malaysia that he became well known for his uncompromising political articles carried by Boxun, under the pseudonym of Qing Shuijun.  The Chinese authorities began to keep a closer eye on the cyberdissident's activities since, in January 2003, he announced he intended to found a political party, the China Patriotic Democratic Party (CPDP). Huang was arrested a few days after his return to China.