Chinese journalist released early from prison

New York, December 14, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of jailed Chinese journalist Huang Jinqiu. The journalist was freed on October 20, but delayed the announcement until Tuesday because authorities had told him not to seek publicity at the time, according to news reports.

Huang, who was based in Jiangsu province, wrote for the U.S.-based website Boxun News before he was arrested in 2003, according to CPJ research. On September 27, 2004, he was sentenced by the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court to 12 years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights on charges of “subversion of state authority.” His sentence was linked to his articles about forming an opposition party, news reports said.

Although Huang was scheduled to be released in 2015, his sentence was reduced by 22 months in July 2007, CPJ research showed. He received further reductions for “manual labor he performed in prison and other reasons,” and was scheduled to be released Tuesday, news reports said. The reason for the journalist’s early release in October was not given, but Human Rights in China reported that authorities had told him not to publicize his freedom at the time. Journalists and dissidents released from Chinese jails are frequently warned not to write or give interviews, under threat of re-arrest, CPJ research has found.

“We welcome Huang Jinqiu’s early release from prison,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “Sadly, the circumstances of his release highlight that even after serving his unjust sentence, his freedom is still under heavy restrictions.”

The journalist was subject to torture, including physical and verbal abuse, while in prison, according to Human Rights in China. Based on his publicly disclosed sentence, CPJ included Huang on its 2011 prison census released on December 8.