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Protesters fill Beijing's Tiananmen Square, May 17, 1989. Yang Tongyan has spent a total of 22 years in prison, including for an earlier conviction for opposing the violent dispersal of the protest. (Reuters/Ed Nachtrieb)

Jailed Chinese journalist suffering from brain tumor

August 15, 2017 3:57 PM ET

Taipei, August 15, 2017--Chinese authorities should immediately release imprisoned journalist Yang Tongyan from prison and allow him to seek medical care wherever he chooses, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Relatives of Chinese writer Yang Tongyan, also known as Yang Tianshui, who is serving a 12-year jail term, said that authorities at Nanjing Prison informed them on Saturday that Yang had a brain tumor and told them to apply for medical parole, according to news reports. Prison officials told the journalists' family that parole would be granted, but that Yang would not be allowed to leave the country, his relatives said.

Yang was jailed in 2006 on subversion charges, and has spent a total of 22 years in prison, including for an earlier conviction for opposing the 1989 military crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Previous applications for medical parole in 2010 and 2012 for other conditions, including tuberculosis, diabetes, and nephritis, were denied, according to reports.

The news of Yang's tumor follows the death in July from liver cancer of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Laureate, shortly after he was transferred from jail to confinement in a Chinese hospital.

"Yang Tongyan should be given immediate freedom to seek medical care anywhere in the world," CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said from Washington, D.C. "We urge Chinese authorities not to repeat the tragedy of Liu Xiaobo's death in custody."

Yang, known for his work for websites banned in China criticizing the ruling Communist Party and advocating the release of writers Zheng Yichun and Zhang Lin, is scheduled to complete his sentence in December.

CPJ has also called for the release of imprisoned journalist Huang Qi on medical parole. Huang's lawyer, who met with Huang for the first time on July 28--eight months after Huang's arrest on charges of sharing state secrets abroad--reported that Huang's medical treatments had been cut off on July 5 and that his health was deteriorating.

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