Lin is the longest-serving journalist in CPJ’s worldwide census. Along with Chen Renjie and Chen Biling, he wrote and published a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report) in the early days of China ‘s economic reform. They distributed 300 copies of the pamphlet in the southern Chinese city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 1982.
Police arrested them the following July and accused them of making contact with Taiwanese spy groups and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official government records of the case, the men used “propaganda and incitement to encourage the overthrow of the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist system.”
In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
No information has been available on the status of Lin or Chen Renjie for several years. Twenty-five years later, in June 2008, the U.S.-based prisoner advocacy group Dui Hua Foundation reported that Chen Renjie was released shortly after his sentence was commuted in January 1998, but found no equivalent information on Lin in prison records in Fujian. “Only continued inquiry will reveal his fate for certain,” the group reported.