Lin, a software entrepreneur and computer engineer, was arrested and charged with “inciting the overthrow of state power” for giving the e-mail addresses of 30,000 Chinese residents to VIP Reference, a U.S.-based Internet magazine that supports democratic reform in China. Lin was tried by the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court on December 4, 1998. The four-hour trial was closed to the public. He told the court that he was innocent and that he had provided the addresses to VIP Reference in the hope that he could eventually build up his Internet business by exchanging e-mail address lists with the magazine, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China. VIP Reference used the addresses to distribute articles on human rights and democracy within mainland China. On January 20, 1999, the court announced that it had found Lin guilty and sentenced him to two years in prison. Lin’s appeal was rejected on March 22, 1999, by the Higher People’s Court of Shanghai.