Internet essayist sentenced

New York, October 21, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the three-year sentence recently handed down to Internet essayist Luo Yongzhong on charges of subversion.

Luo, who has written numerous articles that have been distributed online, was detained on June 14 in Changchun, Jilin Province. On July 7, he was formally arrested. On October 14, the Changchun Intermediate Court sentenced him to three years in prison and two years without political rights upon release. He is due for release on June 13, 2006.

In sentencing papers, which have been widely distributed online, the court stated that between May and June 2003, Luo wrote several essays that “attacked the socialist system, incited to subvert state power, and created a negative influence on society.” Several specific articles were cited as evidence, including “At last we see the danger of the Three Represents!”, a reference to a political theory formulated by former President Jiang Zemin, and “Tell today’s youth the truth about June 4,” a reference to the military crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters in June 1989. According to the court papers, the articles were published in online forums including Shuijing Luntan (Crystal).

Luo, who has a physical disability, has also written a number of articles advocating for the rights of disabled people.

“The Chinese government has once again used subversion charges to silence criticism of official policy,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Luo has simply expressed his personal views and should be released immediately. All charges against him should be dropped.”

For more information about Luo’s case, please see CPJ’s July 21 letter to President Hu Jintao.