Gao, a former journalist who had contributed to the Guangdong-based Asia Pacific Economic Times newspaper and other publications, was sentenced in a secret trial in 2010 to a three-year prison term for endangering state security in a blog entry criticizing disgraced Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, according to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders. A family member confirmed the conviction for CPJ.
In a report published by the overseas Chinese-language website Boxun News, an unidentified former classmate of Gao said the journalist’s wife had signed a written promise not to publicize the case. As a result, Gao had no legal representation or ability to appeal, and his family and friends were told he was working in Iraq, according to Boxun. News of his situation emerged when an online appeal was published online in China on March 23, according to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America. The reports did not specify where Gao was being held.
Gao had criticized Bo Xilai’s notorious 2009 anti-corruption or “smash black” campaign, which targeted organized crime, in a personal blog hosted by the instant messaging company Tencent QQ, according to Boxun. Bo was fired in 2012 amid a corruption and murder scandal.At least 4,781 people were imprisoned in 10 months during Bo’s crackdown on gangs, including many who were wrongfully convicted, according to The New York Times.