Wu, an organizer for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), was detained by police in Guangzhou on April 26, 1999. In June, near the 10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, authorities detained CDP activist Mao. Zhu and Xu Guang, also leading CDP activists, were detained in September. The four were later charged with subversion for, among other things, establishing a magazine called Zaiye Dang (Opposition Party) and circulating pro-democracy writings online.
On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Zhejiang province conducted what The New York Times described as a “sham trial.” On November 9, 1999, all the journalists were convicted of subversion. Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Mao was sentenced to eight years, and Zhu to seven years. Their political rights were suspended for three years each upon release. Xu was sentenced to five years in prison, with a two-year suspension of political rights.
In December 2002, Mao was transferred to a convalescence hospital after his health had sharply declined as a result of being confined to his cell. Zhu, who has also been confined to his cell and forbidden from reading newspapers, was placed under tightened restrictions in 2002 after refusing to express regret for his actions, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China. Xu was released from Zhejiang’s Qiaosi Prison in September 2004.