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Chinese journalist Gao Yu jailed for leaking secrets

A 2007 photo shows Chinese journalist Gao Yu speaking in Hong Kong. Gao has been detained since April 24. (AFP/Mike Clarke)

Hong Kong, May 8, 2014--A Chinese journalist missing since April 24 was detained by authorities and has been accused of leaking a confidential Communist Party document, according to news reports. Gao Yu's arrest comes amid the detention of several government critics as the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown approaches, according to news reports

"Over the years, heavy-handed attempts to censor outspoken voices ahead of the Tiananmen Square anniversary have only directed negative attention to Chinese authorities," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator in New York. "We call on Chinese authorities to drop the charges against Gao Yu immediately and release her from prison."

It is not clear if Gao has been officially charged.

The official state news agency Xinhua reported today that Gao was "willing to accept legal punishment" for leaking a document to editors of a foreign website in August. The agency said authorities had seized evidence from her Beijing home.

On Thursday, the official state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of Gao appearing to confess to a police officer while wearing an orange vest. Her face is blurred but her full name is shown on the screen. She says, "I think my actions ... have harmed the national interest. What I have done was very wrong. I seriously and earnestly accept to learn a lesson and plead guilty."  

"In terms of her confession, I think she must have faced very severe pressure during detention," Teng Biao, a human rights lawyer and Gao's friend, told CPJ today.

Official state media did not say which document Gao is accused of leaking. Teng told the BBC that he agreed with online speculation that she is accused of leaking a confidential Communist Party communiqué known as Document No. 9 that was published last year. The document is said to detail the Chinese government's "vision of pushing economic reforms while maintaining ideological controls and preventing the spread of ideas such as democracy, civil society, and freedom of the press," the BBC reported.

Gao has spent more than seven years in prison. She was given a six-year prison sentence in 1993 for "leaking state secrets" after having served 15 months in prison following the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in Beijing. 

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