January 4, 2018

Eight-year jail term for Chinese anti-corruption blogger

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the eight-year prison sentence that a Chinese court has imposed on Wu Gan, a blogger who campaigned tirelessly against government corruption until his arrest in 2015.

A court in the northern city of Tianjin passed the sentence on 26 December after convicting Wu of “subverting state power” at the end of a trial held behind closed doors. Aged 44, Wu had used the blog name of “Super Vulgar Butcher” ever since taking up the case of a rape victim who fatally stabbed her assailant, a Chinese Communist Party official.

“Wu Gan’s conviction just for expressing his opinions is a flagrant violation of the Chinese constitution, which guarantees free speech,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “After reasserting control over the media, President Xi Jinping is now in the process of silencing individual bloggers and commentators, the last obstacles to his goal of a society in which news and information is totally controlled.”

Wu was arrested on 19 May 2015 as part of a round-up of around 200 human rights lawyers and activists who worked on sensitive cases. Several members of this group, dubbed “709,” have received prison sentences but Wu has been given a heavier sentence than anyone else, almost certainly because he refused to plead guilty.

Another member of this group of activists, human rights lawyer Xie Yang, was convicted of subversion in the south-central city of Changsha on the same day but was not given a sentence after pleading guilty.

The world’s biggest prison for journalists and bloggers, China is ranked near the bottom of RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index – 176th out of 180 countries.