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January 8, 2019 - Updated on January 9, 2019

RSF urges China to free senior citizen journalist, victim of torture

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on China for the immediate release of citizen journalist Qin Yongmin, 65, who has been serving a 13-year prison sentence since last summer and whose state of health has deteriorated as a result of abuse.

Chinese citizen journalist and activist Qin Yongmin is "constantly forced to perform hard manual work", put "under regular surveillance by other prisoners" and even receives "death threats", which is akin to "physical and mental torture" in view of his age and declining health. This was revealed by his wife in an appeal for help addressed to the UN and human rights organizations, after visiting her husband early December in Qianjiang City Prison (Hubei, center).


"Such abuse of an elderly person in poor health is equivalent to a death sentence," said Cédric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) East Asia Bureau, who called on the international community "to pressure Beijing to immediately release Qin Yongmin and all other imprisoned journalists and freedom of information defenders, at least 10 of whom are at risk of dying in detention."


Former metallurgist, Qin Yongmin is a long-time dissident who advocates for peaceful democratic reforms in China, including freedom of the press. Detained since March 2015 for “illegal assembly” and using “the Internet and foreign media” in an attempt to “overthrow the authority of the Chinese Communist Party”, he was sentenced in July 2018 by a court in Wuhan City (central) to a term of imprisonment of 13 years. Before his arrest, he had already spent 22 years in prison and labor camps.


Ranked 176th place out of 180 in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, China is one of the world's largest journalists' prisons, with more than 60 professional and non-professional journalists behind bars. In 2017, two freedom of information advocates, the Nobel Peace Prize and RSF Award Winner Liu Xiaobo, and blogger Yang Tongyan died due to mistreatment during their detention. Journalist Huang Qi, another RSF award holder imprisoned since 2016, is also a victim of torture that makes him fear for his life.