Jiang Yefei, a political cartoonist, was repatriated from Thailand alongside a Chinese activist, Dong Guangping, and detained by Chinese authorities on November 13, 2015, on suspicion of "assisting others to illegally cross the national border," according to the state news agency Xinhua.
In May 2016, police in Chongqing city in southwestern China added the accusation of "inciting subversion of state power," according to the Ireland-based rights group Front Line Defenders.
Jiang, who is also an activist, fled to Thailand in 2008 after being harassed by Chinese authorities, according to Human Rights Watch. The cartoonist was detained twice that year after giving interviews to the international press in which he criticized the government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake, according to Radio Free Asia. Jiang was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and had been accepted for resettlement by Canada, according to Human Rights Watch and news reports.
While in Thailand, Jiang used his social media accounts and articles published on the overseas Chinese-language news website Boxun to continue to speak publicly against China's human rights record and other policies. The journalist's wife, Chu Ling, told CPJ that since 2014, Jiang has been publishing political cartoons on his Facebook and Google+ page. In 2015, Jiang published a series of cartoons on Boxun, Chu said. She told CPJ that in 2015, as her husband's cartoons became more popular, she and Jiang received several anonymous phone calls from China demanding Jiang stop drawing. Chinese authorities also threatened Jiang's brother in China, asking him to tell his brother to stop drawing, Chu said.
In October 2015, Jiang was arrested by Thai authorities for allegedly breaking immigration rules by helping Dong come to Thailand, according to reports. Dong had spent 10 months in a Chinese jail for participating in a commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre before being released in February 2015, according to the BBC. On November 13, 2015, the Thai government deported Jiang and Dong to China, despite objections raised by human rights organizations and the Canadian government, which had accepted their applications for asylum, according to news reports.
On November 26, 2015, Jiang appeared on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, dressed in prison clothes, and confessed to human smuggling. He said he regretted his actions and pleaded for leniency. According to Chu, from the footage, Jiang looked as if he was in pain. "It was obvious to me that he had been beaten. A friend who was imprisoned for 13 years told me that from his experience in jail, it was clear to him that my husband was tortured," Chu told CPJ. CPJ was unable to independently verify her allegation.
In November 2017, Chu told CPJ that Jiang and Dong were secretly transferred from the No. 2 Detention Center to the Nan’an District Detention Center in Chongqing. Authorities did not tell their families about the transfer until the families tried to send money to them.
On July 13, 2018, a court in Chongqing secretly tried Jiang and sentenced him to six years and six months in prison on charges of “inciting subversion of state power,” and “illegally crossing a national border,” according to news reports.
In September 2018, Chu told CPJ that Jiang’s family did not receive any notice on Jiang’s sentencing, and that none of Jiang’s family members were present at the court. Jiang’s sister was not allowed to visit him at the detention center, according to Chu, who said Jiang plans to appeal the verdict. On September 17, 2018, Chu filed an appeal urging the Canadian Government, the United Nations, and international human rights organizations to pressure the Chinese government to release Jiang.
In September 2018, an officer at the Chongqing Public Security Bureau who picked up CPJ’s call said she had no information on the case to disclose.