Taipei, January 12, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the 15-year prison sentence issued to Chinese journalist Shangguan Yunkai and calls on the authorities to release him immediately.
A district court in the central city of Ezhou handed down the sentence on January 5 after Shangguan was convicted for selling fake medicine, picking quarrels and provoking trouble, fraud, false imprisonment, and bigamy, according to news reports and a person familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal. Shangguan plans to appeal the verdict, that person added.
In April 2023, Shangguan was arrested and held incommunicado by Ezhou police on the charge of selling fake medicine after he published an article about police beating a plaintiff in the Ezhou Intermediate People’s Court in 2021, according to news reports and a second person familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
“Shangguan’s trial should have been declared a mistrial from the outset due to the conflict of interest within the city’s justice institutions,” Iris Hsu, CPJ’s China representative, said on Friday. “The sentence is purely retaliatory and Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Shangguan, drop all charges against him, and cease persecuting journalists for their reporting.”
China was the second-largest jailer of journalists as of December 1, 2022, with at least 43 journalists behind bars, according to CPJ’s 2022 annual prison census. CPJ’s 2023 prison census is due to be published this month.
Editor’s note: This text was updated in the second and third paragraphs to fix attributions.