China sentences journalist to three years in jail

New York, January 25, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the three-year jail sentence given to Chinese journalist Li Changqing on Tuesday. The Gulou district court in southern China’s Fuzhou city convicted Li of “spreading false and alarmist information,” defense lawyer Mo Shaoping told CPJ.

The charge was linked to an article published on the banned Chinese-language Web site Boxun News exposing an outbreak of dengue fever in Fujian province before the authorities officially announced it.

But Mo told CPJ his client was the victim of factors “outside the law.” Li, who worked for the newspaper Fuzhou Daily, was detained in early 2005 after supporting whistleblower Huang Jingao. Huang was sentenced to life in prison in November 2005 on corruption charges after he publicly exposed official misconduct in a letter to the People’s Daily newspaper.

China is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 32 imprisoned in December 2005, according to CPJ research.

“This is a terribly unjust punishment for a journalist who has committed no crime,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Li Changqing should be released immediately and unconditionally.”