CPJ awardee receives nine-year sentence

New York, November 2, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the nine-year prison sentence handed down to journalist Jiang Weiping by the Dalian Intermediate Court in Liaoning Province.

The sentence was confirmed by CPJ sources, but has not yet been publicly announced.

In a secret trial held on September 5, CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner Jiang was charged with “revealing state secrets,” “instigating to overthrow state power,” and “illegally holding confidential documents.” It is unclear whether he was found guilty on all three charges. His relatives were not allowed to attend the trial.

Jiang was arrested on December 5, 2000, after publishing a number of articles for the Hong Kong magazine Front-Line (Qianshao) that revealed official corruption among senior officials in northeastern China.

“Jiang Weiping helped uncover several of the largest corruption scandals in China today, which should be a welcome part of the government’s anti-corruption efforts,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Instead, he has been silenced by local officials who are evidently eager to avoid public scrutiny of their actions.”

Jiang’s Front-Line articles, which he wrote under various pen names on a free-lance basis, uncovered several corruption scandals involving high-level officials, including such well-connected leaders as Bo Xilai, governor of Liaoning province and son of Communist Party elder Bo Yibo.

Jiang also revealed that Ma Xiangdong, vice mayor of the provincial capital, Shenyang, gambled away 30 million yuan (US$3 million) of public funds, and he reported that the mayor of nearby Daqing used state money to buy apartments for each of his 29 mistresses.

Ma Xiangdong’s case was widely reported in the official Chinese press and used as an example in the government’s ongoing fight against corruption. On October 10, Ma was sentenced to death on corruption charges.

In a letter to President Jiang Zemin, which was smuggled out of prison, Jiang Weiping explained that he wrote the articles “out of a journalist’s conscience,” and that he intended to express, “confidence and determination in the Party’s anti-corruption efforts,” according to a report in Yazhou Zhoukan magazine.

Until May 2000, Jiang was northeastern China bureau chief for the Hong Kong paper Wen Hui Bao. In the 1980s, he worked as a Dalian-based correspondent for the official Xinhua News Agency. Prior to his arrest, he won several awards for journalistic excellence from local and provincial governments.

On October 17, CPJ announced that Jiang Weiping had been selected to receive one of four 2001 International Press Freedom awards. The awards will be presented in New York on November 20.