Imprisoned Internet journalist on hunger strike

New York, September 6, 2005 ­ The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the health of journalist Zhang Lin, who has been hospitalized since beginning a hunger strike last week to protest his imprisonment, local sources said.

Zhang’s lawyer Mo Shaoping told CPJ that he would visit Zhang this week in Bengbu, in the southeast province of Anhui, where the dissident freelancer is being held. Zhang was sentenced to five years in prison on July 28 for “inciting subversion.”

Authorities detained Zhang on January 29 in Anhui on his return from Beijing, where he had traveled to mourn the death on January 17 of Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted after opposing the use of force against protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Anhui Intermediate People’s Court found Zhang guilty of inciting subversion through a radio interview and six articles that criticized the Communist Party which he posted on overseas dissident news Web sites. Zhang has appealed the verdict. Zhang’s wife believes his imprisonment is also connected to essays he wrote about protests by unemployed workers and recent cases of jailed officials, according to Agence France Presse.

“Five years imprisonment for expressing his views is appalling,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We urge the court hearing Zhang’s appeal to overturn this unjust verdict in accordance with the Chinese constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.”