Wu received the eight-year jail sentence on a charge of “subverting state power” from a court in the northern city of Tianjin on 26 December 2017, after 952 days in preventive detention. Banned from receiving family visits until next February, he has reportedly developed hypertension and a heart ailment since his arrest in 2015.
Wu is famous in China for taking up the case of a hotel employee who fatally stabbed a Communist Party official who tried to rape her. He adopted the blog name of “Super Vulgar Butcher” after some of his online critics began calling him that. His Twitter account, which had more than 30,000 political comments, was finally deleted last month along with those of several other Chinese activists.
“As China’s professional journalists are told to serve as the Party’s mouthpieces, the irreverent comments of bloggers such as Wu Gan are needed more than ever to put the official news coverage into perspective,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia desk. “The determination with which the government tries to rid the Internet of such comments is the best evidence of their importance.”
Wu was arrested on 19 May 2015 in a round-up of more than 200 human rights lawyers and activists. Several members of this group, dubbed “709,” received prison sentences but Wu was given a heavier sentence than anyone else, almost certainly because he refused to plead guilty.
One of the world’s biggest jailers of professional and non-professional journalists, with more than 60 currently detained, China is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, a position it has held for several years.