Yan disappeared in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, in April 2003, and his family members did not know his whereabouts until May 9, when public security officials notified them that Yan had been charged with subversion.
On December 8, 2003, the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Yan to two years in prison in a trial that lasted 20 minutes, his mother said.
Yan, a high school biology teacher, had published several essays online advocating political reforms, freedom of expression, and a free press. His articles also called for the release of Zhao Ziyang, the former general secretary of the Communist Party who was under house arrest in Beijing from 1989 until his death in 2005, according to the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Yan also expressed support for independent labor unions and workers’ rights. He had created a Web site where he posted his writing.
In July 2003, Yan’s mother told journalists that he had been sent to the hospital after being beaten in prison. He is due to be released in April 2005.