Prominent editor released early after three years in jail

FEBRUARY 12, 2007

Li Minying, Nanfang Dushi Bao

Li, the former editor of Guangzhou-based newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao, was released after spending more than three years in jail, half of his sentence. His colleague, former deputy editor-in-chief and General Manager Yu Huafeng, remained jailed on an eight-year sentence.

Both journalists were prosecuted on corruption charges in 2004 as part of an apparent crackdown on this daily that has reported on politically sensitive issues. The paper had reported aggressively on significant health and social issues, including a previously undisclosed case of SARS and the beating death of a young man in police custody.

Li, who also served on the Communist Party Committee of the newspaper’s parent, Nanfang Daily Group, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in March 2004 by a district court in Guangzhou. His sentence was reduced in an appellate trial on June 2004 to six years in prison.

In 2005, more than 2,000 journalists in China signed an open letter to the Guangdong High People’s Court appealing for the release of Yu and Li; observers could remember no precedent in this show of support. The former editor-in-chief of Nanfang Dushi Bao, Cheng Yizhong, who was also jailed for five months, called their imprisonment “the shame of China.”

Authorities told Li’s family members that he was released for good behavior.