New York, August 31, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the sentencing of free-lance writer Liu Haofeng to three years at a labor camp for “endangering national security.”
Documents recently provided to CPJ indicate that Liu was sentenced on May 16 to “reeducation through labor,” a form of administrative detention that allows officials to send individuals to such camps for up to three years without formal charges or trials.
“It is outrageous that the Chinese government continues to deny its citizens the basic right to speak and publish freely,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Liu Haofeng has committed no crime under international law and should be released immediately.”
Sentencing papers issued by the Shanghai Reeducation through Labor Committee cited several alleged offenses, including a policy paper and an essay written by Liu that were published under various pen names on the Web site of the dissident China Democracy Party (CDP). The essay focused on the current situation of China’s peasants.
The committee also accused Liu of trying to form an illegal organization, the “China Democracy Party Joint Headquarters, Second Front.”
According to the CDP, Liu was working as a free-lance journalist and conducting research for the party when he was secretly arrested in Shanghai in March. Friends and family members were not informed of his whereabouts, and CDP members say they only found out what had happened to Liu when they received news of his sentence this month.
The journalist previously worked as an editor and reporter for various publications, including Technology Economy and Management magazine (Jishu Jingji Yu Guanli), run by the Fujian Province Economic and Trade Committee, and China Market Economy News (Zhongguo Shichang Jingji Bao), run by the Central Party School in Beijing. Beginning in 1999, he worked for Univillage, a research organization focused on rural democratization, and managed their Web site.