Chinese journalist sentenced to nearly 5 years for ‘provoking trouble’

New York, April 25, 2016 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the sentencing of Chinese journalist Wang Jing to four years and 10 months in prison on the charge of causing disorder.

Wang, a volunteer journalist for 64 Tianwang and other independent news websites, was convicted on April 20 of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” with her writing, according to reports. 64 Tianwang published what it called a copy of the court verdict, which said that Wang “caused serious disruptions of online order” by posting “a large amount of information that is unconfirmed and defaming to the work of governmental agencies” in articles for 64 Tianwang and other websites. In its verdict, the court cited articles Wang wrote about protests and reports of Chinese police harassing, detaining, and beating protestors, according to 64 Tianwang.

Wang denied the charges, and said she would appeal, according to Radio Free Asia. She is currently being held in a detention center in Jilin City, Jilin Province, according to the verdict published by 64 Tianwang.

“The charge of ‘provoking trouble’ is so absurdly broad it might be laughable if its consequences were not so serious,” CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz said. “The resort to such charges shows how desperate the government is to control information. We call on Chinese authorities not to contest Wang Jing’s appeal.”

Police arrested Wang on December 10, 2014, while she photographed protesters near the Beijing headquarters of the state-run broadcasting agency China Central Television, according to news reports citing Huang Qi, founder and editor of 64 Tianwang.

She had previously been detained in March 2014, after she and two other journalists published a report on 64 Tianwang about a protester attempted to set herself on fire in Tiananmen Square, according to news reports. She was then held on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” but released on bail a month later. She was not formally charged at the time.

Wang is in poor health and suffers from a brain tumor, Huang, her editor, told CPJ. The Hong Kong-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders has reported, citing her lawyer, that local police beat her repeatedly and force-fed her when she staged hunger strikes to protest her alleged mistreatment in custody.

Wang was one of the 49 journalists jailed in China at the time of CPJ’s most recent annual prison census, which showed China to be the world’s leading jailer of journalists.