Charge: Huang Qi is charged with illegally sharing state secrets with foreigners
Imprisoned: November 28, 2016
Outlet: 64 Tianwang
Huang Qi China
Police arrested Huang Qi, founder and manager of the human rights news website 64 Tianwang, outside of his apartment complex in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, on November 28, 2016. More than 10 police officers searched his home and also detained his mother, Pu Wenqing, a retired doctor, who was in the apartment. When police took Pu Wenqing to her home in the city of Neijang, 100 miles to the southeast, she found that her residence had already been ransacked.
Huang, 54, is a pioneer of citizen journalism in China. The website began in 1998 as an information exchange for citizens who had been trafficked or had disappeared. It was initially praised by authorities, and gradually expanded its coverage to include protests, allegations of government corruption and abuse of power, police brutality, and the detention of writers and activists.
Since his arrest in November, Huang has been held in a prison in the city of Mianyang, to the northeast of Chengdu, and charged with "illegally sharing state secrets with foreigners." Huang was denied any visitors until July 28, 2017, when his lawyer, Sui Mouqing, was able to spend over an hour with him. While Sui reported that Huang was in good spirits, his hands, feet and face appeared swollen, and he had gained over 30 pounds. He has also suffered from abuse, such as repeated, lengthy interrogations by a rotating crew of over 36 persons. He was initially forced to stand for six hours straight, although that was since reduced to four hours. He has resisted pressure to confess to any crimes, or to appear on television renouncing his past activities, the lawyer reported.
Huang suffers from a variety of ailments, including the kidney disease acute nephritis. Huang's blood levels of creatinine spiked after his arrest, indicating possible imminent kidney failure, after which prison authorities arranged for medication and a special diet. The treatments were halted on July 5, according to Sui. Repeated appeals by Huang's lawyers, his mother, and associates at 64 Tianwang for a release on medical grounds have been denied.
Huang's lawyers were told in February that the charges stemmed from a Mianyang City government document that was provided to Huang, and which was subsequently published on the 64 Tianwang site, according to Sui. The document was retroactively declared to be "top secret."
Huang is no stranger to the inside of China's jails. He was arrested in 2000, and subsequently sentenced to five years on charges of "subversion of state power" because of articles posted to 64 Tianwang. He said that he was beaten and tortured in prison. Police arrested Huang again in 2008, after he met with families whose children had died in the Sichuan earthquake. He was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of "possessing state secrets."
After his release in 2011, he was frequently harassed by police and detained for short periods during times of high political sensitivity in China, such as during annual Communist Party meetings.
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