Nanjing-based reporter Sun was arrested along with his wife, He Fang, on May 30, 2007, according to the U.S.-based website Boxun News. Sun had previously documented harassment by authorities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as a result of his audio, video, and print reports for the banned Chinese-language news site. Boxun News said authorities confiscated a computer and video equipment from the couple at the time of their arrest.
In the arrest warrant, Sun was accused of possessing an illegal weapon, and a police statement issued on June 1, 2007, said he was the leader of a criminal gang. Lawyers met with Sun and He that June, but the couple was later denied visits from legal counsel and family members, according to a Boxun News report. A trial was postponed twice for lack of evidence.
A four-year prison sentence for possessing illegal weapons and assembling a disorderly crowd was delivered on June 30, 2008, in a hearing closed to Sun’s lawyers and family, according to The Associated Press.
Witness testimony about Sun’s possession of weapons was contradictory, according to news reports. The disorderly crowd charge was based on an incident in 2004, three years before his arrest. Police accused him of disturbing the peace while aiding people evicted from their homes, but the journalist said he had broken no laws.
Sun’s wife, He, was given a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison on similar charges, according to Sun’s defense lawyer, Mo Shaoping. She was allowed to return home after the hearing. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter.
Prison authorities transferred Sun to Jiangsu province’s Pukou Prison in September 2008, according to a report published by Boxun News. The report said Nanjing authorities refused to return the confiscated equipment. Because seeking a sentence reduction would involve admitting guilt, Sun has resolved to serve the time in full, according to the report.