Police arrested Jiang in the late evening and searched his home, seizing his computer, several documents, and articles he had written for Beijing zhi Chun (Beijing Spring), a New York-based pro-democracy publication. The arrest came after Jiang published a series of essays and open letters related to the 10th anniversary of the government’s violent suppression of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. One essay called for a candlelight vigil on June 4, 1999; another urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the massacre; and a third protested the police’s brutal treatment of Cao Jiahe, an editor of Dongfang (Orient) magazine who was detained on May 10, 1999, and tortured while in police custody. Cao had been detained for allegedly circulat- ing a petition to remember the hundreds killed by government troops during the Tiananmen crackdown.
During Jiang’s two-and-a-half-hour trial, held on November 1, 1999, prosecutors cited an April essay calling for a protest vigil, “Light a Thousand Candles,” as evidence of his anti-state activities. Prosecutors also accused him of circulating an article on political reform, though Jiang said he showed the piece to only three friends. On December 27, 2000, thirteen months after his trial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Jiang to four years in prison.