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Cyclists cross Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China on June 16, 2017. A Sichuan province court on July 13, 2018, sentenced Chinese freelance political cartoonist Jiang Yefei to prison for six years and six months on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” and “illegally crossing a national border,” according to reports. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

China sentences political cartoonist to 6 years and 6 months in prison

July 26, 2018 2:16 PM ET

Hanoi, July 26, 2018--A Sichuan province court on July 13 sentenced Chinese freelance political cartoonist Jiang Yefei to prison for six years and six months on charges of "inciting subversion of state power," and "illegally crossing a national border," during a secret trial, according to the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia and the independent news website Hong Kong Free Press. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned his conviction and sentencing-- which were made public today-- and urged Chinese authorities to release Jiang immediately.

"Jiang Yefei's trial in secret on trumped-up political charges is a travesty," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney from New York. "The Chinese government's fear of a cartoonist's pen does not justify depriving a man of six and half years of his liberty."

Jiang fled to Thailand in 2008 after he faced harassment from Chinese authorities for criticizing the government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake, CPJ research shows. According to media reports, the natural disaster left at least 69,000 people dead and provoked questions about why buildings in the earthquake-prone region collapsed. In October 2015, Jiang was arrested in Thailand for allegedly breaking Thai immigration rules by helping a Chinese human rights activist enter Thailand; he was repatriated in mid-November, according to CPJ research. On November 26, 2015, Jiang appeared on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, dressed in prison clothes, and confessed to human smuggling, CPJ research shows.

China was the second largest jailer of journalists in CPJ's most recent prison census, with 41 journalists behind bars in December 2017.

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