Chinese writer Li Tie is serving a sentence of 10 years in prison for allegedly having “anti-government thoughts.” Wuhan police arrested Li, who wrote articles calling for democracy and political reform in China, in 2010.
Police in Wuhan, Hubei province, detained Li, a freelancer then 52 years old, on September 15, 2010, according to international news reports. The Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court tried him behind closed doors on April 18, 2011, but did not announce the verdict until January 18, 2012, when he was handed a 10-year prison term and three additional years’ political deprivation, according to news reports citing his lawyer. Only Li’s mother and daughter were allowed to attend the trial, news reports said.
The court cited 13 of Li’s online articles to support the charge of subversion of state power, a more serious count than inciting subversion, which is a common criminal charge used against jailed journalists in China, according to CPJ research. Evidence in the trial cited articles including one headlined "Human beings’ heaven is human dignity," in which Li urged respect for ordinary citizens and called for democracy and political reform, according to international news reports. Prosecutors argued that the articles proved Li had "anti-government thoughts" that would ultimately lead to "anti-government actions," according to the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Jian Guanghong, a lawyer hired by his family, was detained before the trial and a government-appointed lawyer represented Li instead, according to the group. Prosecutors also cited Li’s membership in a small opposition group, the China Social Democracy Party, the group reported.
Li was detained in Edong Prison in Huanggang, Hubei province, as of late 2019, according to Radio Free Asia reporter Qiao Long, who maintains contact with Li’s family and spoke with CPJ via messaging app. He has not been allowed to communicate with people outside of the prison through phone calls or letters.
Li has high blood pressure, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders. In April 2018, Li’s daughter Li Yueming visited him in prison and told Radio Free Asia that Li had lost a lot of weight, but the prison guards would not allow the family to provide him medicine from outside of the prison.
Qiao told CPJ in September 2019 that Li’s health had improved.