After a Beijing people’s high court yesterday reduced journalist Gao Yu’s jail sentence on a charge of divulging state secrets from seven to five years on appeal, the court gave her permission to temporarily serve the sentence at a friend’s home so that she can receive medical treatment.
Gao has heart problems, which Reporters Without Borders (RSF) repeatedly drew to the attention of the Chinese authorities and international community in recent months . However, the authorities could send her back to prison at any time if they decide that her state of health is compatible with prison conditions. “Our reaction is a mixture of optimism and concern,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The court’s decision to let Gao Yu receive treatment at home is good news, but it offers no guarantees for the future. “The authorities are just acting under international pressure. We fear they will send her back to prison if the pressure lets up. Gao committed no crime, so she should receive a full and unconditional release.” Aged 71, Gao suffers from a heart ailment and lymphadenopathy, a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck. Her condition has worsened significantly since her arrest in May 2014 and, according to her lawyers, she had a heart attack last month. Ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, China continues to be the world’s biggest prison for news and information providers, with a total of 107 professional and citizen-journalists currently detained.