Around the world, 122 journalists were in prison at the end of 2004 for practicing their profession, 16 fewer than the year before. International advocacy campaigns, including those waged by the Committee to Protect Journalists, helped win the early release of a number of imprisoned journalists, notably six independent writers and reporters in Cuba.
Four countries stand out for their repressive practices. China, Cuba, Eritrea, and Burma account for more than three-quarters of the 2004 total. For the sixth consecutive year, China was the leading jailer of journalists, with 42 imprisoned at year’s end.
At the beginning of 2004, CPJ sent letters of inquiry to the heads of state of every country on the list below requesting information about each jailed journalist. This list represents a snapshot of all journalists incarcerated at midnight on December 31, 2004. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be found on this Web site.
A word about how this list is compiled: In totalitarian societies where independent journalism is forbidden, CPJ often defends persecuted writers whose governments view them as political dissidents rather than as journalists. We consider any journalist who is deprived of his or her liberty by a government to be imprisoned. Journalists remain on this list until we receive positive confirmation that they have been released.
Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities, including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are not included on the imprisoned list. Their cases are classified as “missing.” Details of these cases are available on CPJ’s Web site.
Countries that have jailed journalists
Djamel Eddine Fahassi, Alger Chaîne III
Imprisoned: May 6, 1995
Fahassi, a reporter for the state-run radio station Alger Chaîne III and a contributor to several Algerian newspapers, including the now-banned weekly of the Islamic Salvation Front, Al-Forqane, was abducted near his home in the al-Harrache suburb of the capital, Algiers, by four well-dressed men carrying walkie-talkies. According to eyewitnesses who later spoke with his wife, the men called out Fahassi’s name and then pushed him into a waiting car. He has not been seen since, and Algerian authorities have denied any knowledge of his arrest.
Prior to Fahassi’s “disappearance,” Algerian authorities had targeted him on at least two occasions because his writing criticized the government. In late 1991, he was arrested after an article in Al-Forqane criticized a raid conducted by security forces on an Algiers neighborhood. On January 1, 1992, the Blida Military Court convicted him of disseminating false information, attacking a state institution, and disseminating information that could harm national unity.
He received a one-year suspended sentence and was released after five months. On February 17, 1992, he was arrested a second time for allegedly attacking state institutions and spreading false information. He was transferred to the Ain Salah Detention Center in southern Algeria, where hundreds of Islamic suspects were detained in the months following the cancellation of the January 1992 elections.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Fahassi’s abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Aziz Bouabdallah, Al-Alam al-Siyassi
Imprisoned: April 12, 1997
Bouabdallah, a reporter for the daily Al-Alam al-Siyassi, was abducted by three armed men from his home in the capital, Algiers. According to Bouabdallah’s family, the men stormed into their home and, after identifying the journalist, grabbed him, put his hands behind his back, and pushed him out the door and into a waiting car. An article published in the daily El-Watan a few days after his abduction reported that Bouabdallah was in police custody and was expected to be released soon.
In July 1997, CPJ received credible information that Bouabdallah was being held in Algiers at the Châteauneuf detention facility, where he had reportedly been tortured. But Bouabdallah’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and authorities have denied any knowledge of his abduction.
In late January 2002, Algerian Ambassador to the United States Idriss Jazairy responded to a CPJ query, saying a government investigation had not found those responsible for Bouabdallah’s abduction. The ambassador added that there was no evidence of state involvement.
Mohamed Benchicou, Le Matin
Imprisoned: June 14, 2004
Benchicou, publisher of the French-language daily Le Matin, was sentenced to two years in prison and jailed after being convicted of violating the country’s currency laws in 2003. The sentence was widely viewed as retaliation for Le Matin‘s critical editorial line against the government.
The case was launched in August 2003, after Le Matin alleged that Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni had tortured detainees while he was a military security commander in the 1970s. Benchicou, a frequent government critic, further angered officials in February 2004, when he published a book about Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika titled Bouteflika, An Algerian Fraud.
Dozens of other cases were pending against Benchicou in 2004, including lawsuits alleging that he defamed Bouteflika in Le Matin articles.
Ahmed Benaoum, Errai al-Aam
Imprisoned: Late September or early October 2004
Benaoum, CEO of Errai al-Aam, a media company that publishes three papers, was jailed on what several Algerian journalists described as spurious charges of business fraud that were designed to punish him for his efforts to expose local corruption. CPJ is seeking more details about the case.
In July 2004, a criminal court in Oran, Algeria’s second-largest city, sentenced Benaoum to two months in prison for defamation. His company published the Arabic-language daily Errai (The Opinion), the French-language daily Le Journal de l’Ouest (Journal of the West), and the French-language weekly Detective until August 2003, when the journals ceased publication because the company was unable to pay debts owed to the state-owned printer.
The defamation charges stemmed from several 2003 articles in Errai that accused Oran’s police chief of financial mismanagement and corruption. Several other defamation cases were also filed against Benaoum. He was freed on the defamation charge after completing his term.
Rauf Arifoglu, Yeni Musavat
Imprisoned: October 27, 2003
Arifoglu was arrested amid antigovernment protests–and a crackdown against opposition journalists and political activists–that followed the 2003 presidential election. Arifoglu is the deputy director of the Musavat opposition party, but his primary duties entailed editing the party’s newspaper, Yeni Musavat.
The unrest erupted after authorities declared Ilham Aliyev–son of the country’s former president, Heydar Aliyev, who died in December 2003–the victor with 80 percent of the vote. International election monitors strongly criticized the poll.
A court ordered Arifoglu detained for three months while officials investigated his participation in post-election protests. During at least part of that time, authorities held him in solitary confinement in a cold, unsanitary cell and did not allow him to receive newspapers or writing materials, the editor’s lawyers and supporters told the local media.
In December 2003, presidential adviser Ali Hasanov said the journalist was being detained because of his journalism. “He is not just a politician, but a newspaper editor as well,” Hasanov said, the independent newspaper Ekho reported. “Therefore, if he was released, he would mobilize all possible newspapers to interfere in the activities of law enforcement agencies and the court [in the case against him].”
Arifoglu and several opposition leaders went on a hunger strike for several weeks in December 2003 and February 2004 to protest their detention. In January 2004, a court extended Arifoglu’s detention for another three months because prosecutors had not produced evidence against him, the independent news agency Turan reported.
On the eve of his May 2004 trial, Arifoglu maintained his innocence, saying the criminal charges were an effort to silence his work as a journalist. Prosecutors began a joint trial of Arifoglu and six opposition leaders on May 7 at the Serious Crimes Court in the capital, Baku. At the first hearing, police barred dozens of independent and opposition journalists from entering the courtroom but allowed pro-government journalists to attend, Agence France-Presse reported.
Arifoglu’s lawyers complained of numerous procedural violations during the trial. Defense lawyer Mubariz Qarayev said the court rejected requests to call witnesses or present evidence on behalf of the defendant, the independent newspaper Ekho reported. In some cases, police officers testifying for the prosecution provided nearly identical testimony, the independent newspaper Zerkalo reported.
On October 22, the court sentenced Arifoglu to five years in prison on charges of organizing antigovernment riots. The six opposition activists were sentenced to prison terms ranging up to five years.
Safarov said the defendants plan to appeal the conviction in Azerbaijani courts and, if necessary, to the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Human Rights.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, Blitz
Imprisoned: November 29, 2003
Choudhury, editor of the weekly tabloid Blitz, was arrested by security personnel at Zia International Airport in the capital, Dhaka, on suspicion of antistate activities and espionage while on his way to Israel to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Union.
According to The Daily Star, the journalist was suspected of having links to an Israeli intelligence agency and had been under surveillance for several months before his arrest. Choudhury denied the charges, The Independent reported.
On December 17, 2003, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court denied Choudhury’s request for bail, and police formally charged him with violating passport regulations, which carries a maximum sentence of six months. Bangladesh has no formal relations with Israel, and travel to Israel is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens. The Home Ministry also charged him with sedition and conducting antistate activities, according to Choudhury’s family. If convicted, he could face the death penalty, sources tell CPJ.
Authorities repeatedly denied Choudhury release on bail in 2004, despite his deteriorating health and appeals from his family. After extensive lobbying, his family received a copy of an official correspondence from Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s office to the Home Ministry asking that his case be resolved as quickly as possible. But in August, the High Court denied Choudhury’s appeal for bail, and he remained at Dhaka’s Central Jail at year’s end.
CPJ continues to investigate the motives behind Choudhury’s imprisonment. He was traveling to address a writers’ symposium in Tel Aviv titled “Bridges Through Culture” and was scheduled to speak about “the role of media in establishing peace,” according to the conference organizer. Choudhury would have been the first journalist from Bangladesh to address such a group in Israel.
Choudhury was affiliated with the Israel-based International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting world peace. He had recently written about the rise of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh.
U Win Tin, freelance
Imprisoned: July 4, 1989
U Win Tin, former editor-in-chief of the daily Hanthawati and vice chairman of Burma’s Writers Association, was arrested and sentenced to three years of hard labor on the spurious charge of arranging a “forced abortion” for a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). One of Burma’s most well-known and influential journalists, U Win Tin helped establish independent publications during the 1988 student democracy movement. He was also a senior leader of the NLD and a close adviser to opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 1992, he was sentenced to an additional 10 years for “writing and publishing pamphlets to incite treason against the State” and “giving seditious talks,” according to a May 2000 report by the Defense Ministry’s Office of Strategic Studies. On March 28, 1996, prison authorities extended U Win Tin’s sentence by another seven years after they convicted him, along with at least 22 others, of producing clandestine publications–including a report describing the horrific conditions at Rangoon’s Insein Prison, to the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Burma.
U Win Tin was charged under Section 5(e) of the Emergency Provisions Act for having “secretly published antigovernment propaganda to create riots in jail,” according to the Defense Ministry report. His cumulative sentence is, therefore, 20 years of hard labor and imprisonment.
Now 74, the veteran journalist is said to be in extremely poor health after years of maltreatment in Burma’s prisons–including a period when he was kept in solitary confinement in one of Insein Prison’s notorious “dog cells,” formerly used as kennels for the facility’s guard dogs. He suffers from a degenerative spine disease, as well as a prostate gland disorder and hemorrhoids. The journalist has had at least two heart attacks and spent time in the hospital twice in 2002: once following a hernia operation, and again in connection with a heart ailment.
According to a report in Le Monde, a Burmese army officer asked U Win Tin to sign a document in early 2003 that would have freed him from prison if he agreed to stop his political work, but the journalist refused.
Burma’s ruling military junta announced a general amnesty for almost 4,000 prisoners in late November 2003, and U Win Tin was rumored to be on the list for release, but according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma, he remained in prison at the end of 2004.
Ohn Kyaing (also known as Aung Wint), freelance
Thein Tan, freelance
Imprisoned: September 6, 1990
After more than 14 years in prison, Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan were released on January 3, 2005, as part of a general amnesty granted by the military junta. The two are included on CPJ’s annual imprisoned list because they remained in custody on December 31, 2004.
Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan were among six leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) who were arrested on September 6, 1990. A month later, the Information Committee of the ruling junta announced that they “had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by a military tribunal for inciting unrest by writing false reports about the unrest, which occurred in Mandalay on 8 August 1990,” according to the BBC’s translation of a state radio broadcast.
The Mandalay “unrest” involved the military’s killing of four pro-democracy demonstrators. Government troops fired on the protestors–who were themselves commemorating the democracy rallies of August 8, 1988, during which hundreds were shot dead.
Ohn Kyaing, who also uses the name Aung Wint, is the former editor of the newspaper Botahtaung and one of Burma’s most prominent journalists. He retired from Botahtaung in December 1988 to become more involved in the pro-democracy movement, according to the PEN American Center. In 1990, Ohn Kyaing was elected to Parliament for the NLD, representing a district in Mandalay. (The results of the elections, which the NLD won, were never honored by the military junta.) A leading intellectual, he continued to write. Thein Tan, whose name is sometimes written as Thein Dan, is also a freelance writer and political activist associated with the NLD.
PEN reported that in mid-1991, Ohn Kyaing received an additional sentence of 10 years in prison under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act for his involvement in drafting a pamphlet for the NLD titled “The Three Paths to Power.” Thein Tan also received an additional 10-year sentence, according to Amnesty International, presumably for the same reason.
Ohn Kyaing was imprisoned at Taungoo Prison, and Thein Tan at Thayet Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe, Pe-Tin-Than
Imprisoned: September 1990
Maung Maung Lay Ngwe was arrested and charged with writing and distributing publications that “make people lose respect for the government.” The publications were titled, collectively, Pe-Tin-Than (Echoes). CPJ believes that he may have been released but has not been able to confirm his legal status or find records of his sentencing.
Sein Hla Oo, freelance
Imprisoned: August 5, 1994
Sein Hla Oo, a freelance journalist and former editor of the newspaper Botahtaung, was arrested along with dissident writer San San Nwe on charges of contacting antigovernment groups and spreading information damaging to the state. On October 6, 1994, Sein Hla Oo was sentenced to seven years in prison. San San Nwe and three other dissidents, including a former UNICEF worker, received sentences ranging from seven to 15 years in prison on similar charges.
Officials said the five had “fabricated and sent antigovernment reports” to diplomats in foreign embassies, foreign radio stations, and foreign journalists. Sein Hla Oo, elected in 1990 to Parliament representing the National League for Democracy (NLD), had been imprisoned previously for his political activities.
Though San San Nwe was granted an early release in July 2001 along with 10 other political prisoners associated with the NLD, Sein Hla Oo remained in jail. He was held at Myitkyina Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
Sein Hla Oo’s sentence should have expired in August 2001, but he was forced to serve the remainder of an earlier 10-year prison sentence, issued by a military court in Insein Prison in March 1991, according to his wife, Shwe Zin. Authorities had arrested Sein Hla Oo in August 1990 along with several other NLD members but released him under an amnesty order in April 1992. Shwe Zin told the Oslo-based opposition radio station Democratic Voice of Burma in an interview that her husband had signed a document in October 2001 agreeing to abide by Article 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows prisoners’ sentences to be suspended if they pledge not to engage in activities that threaten public order.
Aung Htun, freelance
Imprisoned: February 1998
Aung Htun, a writer and activist with the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, was arrested in February 1998 for writing a seven-volume book documenting the history of the Burmese student movement. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison, according to a joint report published in December 2001 by the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the Burma Lawyers Council. Aung Htun was sentenced to three years for violating the 1962 Printer and Publishers Registration Act; seven years under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act; and another seven years under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act. He is jailed at Tharawaddy Prison.
In August 2002, Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal on Aung Htun’s behalf saying that the journalist required immediate medical attention. Amnesty reported that Aung Htun “has growths on his feet which require investigation, is unable to walk, and suffers from asthma.”
Tha Ban, a former editor at Kyemon newspaper who was arrested with Aung Htun, was released from Insein Prison in the capital, Rangoon, on July 12, 2004, after serving more than six years of his seven-year prison sentence. According to the BBC, Tha Ban was released from prison after signing a pledge not to participate in politics.
Aung Pwint, freelance
Thaung Tun (also known as Nyein Thit), freelance
Imprisoned: October 1999
Aung Pwint, a videographer, editor, and poet, and Thaung Tun, an editor, reporter, and poet better known by his pen name, Nyein Thit, were arrested separately in early October 1999. CPJ sources said they were arrested for making independent video documentaries that portrayed life in Burma, including footage of forced labor and hardship in rural areas. Aung Pwint worked at a private media company that produced videos for tourism and educational purposes, but he also worked with Thaung Tun on documentary-style projects. Their videotapes circulated through underground networks.
The military government had prohibited Aung Pwint from making videos in 1996 “because they were considered to show too negative a picture of Burmese society and living standards,” according to Human Rights Watch, which awarded Aung Pwint a Hellman-Hammett Grant in 2001. A notable poet, he has also written under the name Maung Aung Pwint.
The two men were tried together, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison, according to CPJ sources. Aung Pwint was initially jailed at Insein Prison but was later transferred to Tharawaddy Prison, according to CPJ sources. Thaung Tun was jailed at Moulmein Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
CPJ honored the two journalists in 2004 with International Press Freedom Awards for their courage and commitment to press freedom.
Zaw Thet Htway, First Eleven
Imprisoned: July 17, 2003
After 18 months in prison, Zaw Thet Htway was released on January 3, 2005, as part of a general amnesty granted by the military junta. He is included on CPJ’s annual imprisoned list because he remained in detention on December 31, 2004.
Zaw Thet Htway, editor of the popular Burmese sports magazine First Eleven, was detained when military intelligence officers raided the magazine’s offices and arrested him and four other First Eleven journalists, who were soon released. According to exile groups, the officers beat Zaw Thet Htway during the arrest.
Zaw Thet Htway and eight others were charged on November 28, 2003, with high treason and sentenced to death. The government accused them of plotting to overthrow Burma’s ruling junta and of being involved with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Burma’s Supreme Court commuted Zaw Thet Htway’s death sentence on May 12, 2004, setting a three-year prison sentence instead. On further appeal in October 2004, his sentence was reduced again to a two-year term. The sentences of his co-defendants were also reduced in response to international pressure, according to exiled Burmese sources.
In June 2003, First Eleven received a government warning after it published an article questioning how international grant money for the development of soccer had been spent, according to The Irrawaddy, a Bangkok-based news magazine run by exiled Burmese journalists.
In a statement, the government denied that Htway was arrested because of his work as a journalist but did not provide details, according to the AP. The journalist’s arrest came amid a crackdown by Burma’s ruling military junta that began on May 30, 2003, when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested along with as many as 17 other NLD members.
Htway spent several years in jail in the 1990s because of his work with the Democratic Party for a New Society, a banned political party now operating in exile.
Ne Min (also known as Win Shwe), freelance
Imprisoned: May 7, 2004
Ne Min, a lawyer and former stringer for the BBC, was sentenced to a 15-year prison term by a special court in the infamous Insein Prison in the capital, Rangoon, along with four other former political prisoners who also received lengthy prison sentences, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
Military intelligence officers arrested the five men in February for allegedly passing information to unlawful organizations outside Burma, according to the AAPPB. The four others are Maung Maung Latt, Paw Lwin, Ye Thiha, and Yan Naing.
In 1989, Ne Min, who is also known as Win Shwe, was charged with “spreading false news and rumors to the BBC to fan further disturbances in the country,” and the “possession of documents including antigovernment literature, which he planned to send to the BBC,” according to official Rangoon radio. He was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor by a military tribunal near Insein Prison and served nine years.
Exiled Burmese journalists say it is likely that Ne Min, who is thought to be in his mid-50s, continued to provide news and information to exiled and international news sources after his release from prison in 1998. The media in Burma are strictly controlled and censored, and most Burmese get their news from international radio.
The convictions came just 10 days before the opening of the National Convention, called by Burma’s ruling junta to frame a new constitution as part of a so-called seven-step plan to democracy. The National League for Democracy, the main opposition political party, boycotted the convention, and foreign reporters were not issued visas to cover the event. Local journalists say the harsh convictions were meant as a warning and were part of an overall increase in intimidation and pressure on the media in Burma.
Lazing La Htoi, freelance
Imprisoned: July 27, 2004
Burmese documentary filmmaker La Htoi was detained in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern Kachin State, for filming and distributing footage of extreme flooding that hit the region in late July.
La Htoi shot footage of the record floods with his personal video camera and then made 300 copies for distribution, according to The Irrawaddy, a newspaper run by exiled Burmese journalists in Thailand. Local authorities arrested him on July 27 while he was copying the footage, and he remained in custody of military intelligence, according to CPJ sources.
The Cyber Computer Center, where the video was copied, was closed and ordered to recall all 300 copies of the footage before they were distributed overseas, according to The Irrawaddy.
La Htoi, 47, runs a private printing house and has produced video documentaries for the Metta Foundation, a U.S.-based organization founded on Buddhist principles that is one of the few nongovernmental agencies permitted to assist in rural development in Burma. Private video production companies are not allowed in Burma, although foundations and nongovernmental agencies are permitted to produce educational videos.
Burma’s official newspaper, Kyemon, did not report any extensive damage from the floods, according to The Irrawaddy, but La Htoi’s video included footage of a dead body and an interview with a local resident citing many casualties, according to CPJ sources.
Eric Wirkwa Tayu, Nso Voice
Imprisoned: July 28, 2004
Tayu, publisher of the English-language newspaper Nso Voice based in the western town of Kumbo, was imprisoned after his conviction on charges of defaming the town’s mayor, Donatus Njong Fonyuy, in articles that alleged corruption, according to local sources.
Tayu was sentenced to five months in prison and fined 500,000 CFA francs (about US$893). When Tayu was unable to pay the fine, his prison sentence was extended five months, according to local sources.
Chen Renjie, “Ziyou Bao”
Lin Youping, “Ziyou Bao”
Imprisoned: July 1983
In September 1982, Chen, Lin, and Chen Biling wrote and published a pamphlet titled “Ziyou Bao” (Freedom Report), distributing about 300 copies in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. They were arrested in July 1983 and accused 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 Youping was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
Hu Liping, Beijing Ribao
Imprisoned: April 7, 1990
Hu, a staff member of Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was arrested and charged with “counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda” and “trafficking in state secrets,” according to a rare release of information on his case from the Chinese Ministry of Justice in 1998. The Beijing Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on August 15, 1990. Under the terms of his original sentence, Hu should have been released in 2000, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information about his legal status.
Chen Yanbin, Tieliu
Imprisoned: September 1990
Chen and Zhang Yafei, both university students, were arrested and charged with counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda for publishing Tieliu (Iron Currents), an underground publication about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies of the publication were distributed. Chen was sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years without political rights after his release. Zhang was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights after his release. However, Zhang was freed on January 6, 2000, after showing “genuine repentance and a willingness to reform.” In September 2000, the Justice Ministry announced that Chen’s sentence had been reduced by three months for good behavior.
Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency
Ma Tao, Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao
Imprisoned: November 6, 1992
Wu, an editor for China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was arrested for allegedly leaking an advance copy of then President Jiang Zemin’s 14th Communist Party Congress address to a journalist from the now defunct Hong Kong newspaper Kuai Bao (Express). His wife, Ma, editor of Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao (China Health Education News), was arrested on the same day and accused of acting as Wu’s accomplice. The Beijing Municipal Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial and sentenced Wu to life imprisonment on August 30, 1993, for “illegally supplying state secrets to foreigners.” Ma was sentenced to six years in prison.
According to the terms of her original sentence, Ma should have been released in November 1998, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on her legal status.
Wu’s life sentence was later reduced, and he is scheduled to be released from Beijing’s No. 2 Prison on July 10, 2005, according to information received from the Chinese Ministry of Justice by the Dui Hua Foundation, a political-prisoner advocacy group.
Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
Sentenced: February 7, 1996
In 1994, Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of the magazine Remen Huati (Popular Topics). The men had allegedly purchased fake printing authorizations from an editor of the Journal of European Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to official Chinese news sources.
CPJ was unable to determine the date of Fan’s arrest, but on February 7, 1996, the Chang’an District Court in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 15 years in prison for “engaging in speculation and profiteering.” Authorities termed Remen Huati a “reactionary” publication. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.
Hua Di, freelance
Imprisoned: January 5, 1998
Hua, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested while visiting China and charged with revealing state secrets. The charge is believed to stem from articles that Hua, a scientist at Stanford University, had written about China’s missile defense system.
On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People’s Court overturned Hua’s conviction and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, particularly for a high-profile political case. Nevertheless, in April 2000, the Beijing State Security Bureau rejected a request for Hua to be released on medical parole; he suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.
On November 23, 2000, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court issued a modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison. News of Hua’s sentencing broke in February 2001, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing. In late 2001, Hua was moved to Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai, according to CPJ sources.
Liu Xianli, freelance
Imprisoned: March 1998
The Beijing Intermediate Court convicted writer Liu of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Liu was imprisoned for attempting to publish a book on Chinese dissidents, including Xu Wenli, one of China’s most prominent political prisoners and a leading figure in the China Democracy Party. In December 1998, Xu was himself convicted of subversion and sentenced to 13 years in prison. On December 24, 2002, Xu was released on medical parole and deported to the United States.
According to the terms of his original sentence, Liu should have been released in March 2002, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on his legal status.
Gao Qinrong, Xinhua News Agency
Imprisoned: December 4, 1998
Gao, a reporter for China’s state news agency, Xinhua, was jailed for reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. Xinhua never carried Gao’s article, which was finally published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official People’s Daily that is distributed only among a select group of party leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) and on China Central Television. Gao’s wife, Duan Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media interest and arranged for his prosecution on false charges.
Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison after a closed, one-day trial. He is being held in a prison in Qixian, Shanxi Province, according to CPJ sources.
In September 2001, Gao wrote to Mary Robinson, then U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and asked her to intercede with the Chinese government on his behalf. Gao has received support from several members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of the National People’s Congress, who issued a motion at its annual parliamentary meeting in March 2001 urging the Central Discipline Committee and Supreme People’s Court to reopen his case. But by the end of 2004, there had been no change in his legal status.
Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo
Imprisoned: January 1999
The Tianshui People’s Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison on July 5, 1999. The journalist was charged with “subverting state power,” according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Yue was arrested along with two colleagues–Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin–both of whom were sentenced to two years in prison and have since been released. According to the Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post, Yue, Guo, and Wang were arrested in January 1999 for publishing Zhongguo Gongren Guancha (China Workers’ Monitor), a journal that campaigned for workers’ rights.
With help from Wang, Yue and Guo started the journal after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. All three men reportedly belonged to the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers. The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guancha exposed extensive corruption among officials at the Tianshui City Transport Agency. Only two issues were ever published.
Wu Yilong, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: April 26, 1999
Mao Qingxiang, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: June 1999
Zhu Yufu, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: September 1999
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.
Zhang Ji, freelance
Imprisoned: October 1999
Zhang, a student at the University of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang Province, was charged on November 8, 1999, with “disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet,” according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Zhang had allegedly distributed news and information about the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong. He was arrested sometime in October 1999 as part of the Chinese government’s crackdown on the sect.
Using the Internet, Zhang reportedly transmitted news of the crackdown to Falun Gong members in the United States and Canada and also received reports from abroad, which he then circulated among practitioners in China. Before Zhang’s arrest, Chinese authorities had increased Internet surveillance in their efforts to crush Falun Gong.
Huang Qi, Tianwang Web site
Imprisoned: June 3, 2000
Public security officials came to Huang’s office and arrested him for articles that had appeared on the Tianwang Web site, which he published. In January 2001, he was charged with subversion.
On August 14, 2001, the Chengdu Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province held a closed trial after several postponements. On May 9, 2003, almost two years after the trial, the court sentenced Huang Qi to five years in prison and one subsequent year without political rights. Huang was sentenced under Articles 69, 103, and 105 of the Criminal Law, which cover the crimes of “splitting the country” and subversion.
In October 1998, Huang and his wife, Zeng Li, launched Tianwang, a missing-persons search service based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The site soon became a forum for users to publicize abuses of power by local officials and to post articles about a variety of topics, including the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the independence movement in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
In December 1999, Huang published an investigative report about labor abuses committed against workers whom the Sichuan provincial government had sent abroad. While several domestic newspapers subsequently investigated and published stories on the case, authorities in Chengdu began threatening Huang and repeatedly interrogated him about his reporting.
Huang has been beaten in prison and has tried to commit suicide, according to an open letter he wrote from prison in February 2001 that was published on the Tianwang site. His family members, including his wife and young son, were not allowed to visit until November 2003. According to local sources, Huang’s health has deteriorated significantly while in prison. He suffers from a heart condition and a skin disease.
Huang’s family was not notified of his sentencing hearing and only learned of Huang’s conviction after Zeng Li called the court. On May 18, 2003, Huang Qi appealed his sentence, pointing out that China’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Huang’s trial had been postponed several times throughout 2001 in an apparent effort to deflect international attention from China’s human rights practices during the country’s campaign to host the 2008 Olympic Games. (Two of the trial delays–on February 23 and June 27–coincided with important dates in Beijing’s Olympics bid.)
The Sichuan Higher People’s Court rejected Huang’s appeal in August 2003. He is due to be released in June 2005.
Xu Zerong, freelance
Imprisoned: June 24, 2000
Xu was arrested in the city of Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 19 months before being tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in January 2002. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “leaking state secrets,” and to an additional three years on charges of committing “economic crimes.”
Xu, an associate research professor at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, has written several freelance articles about China’s foreign policy and co-founded a Hong Kong-based academic journal Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). Xu is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Chinese officials have said that the “state secrets” charges against Xu stem from his use of historical materials for his academic research. In 1992, Xu photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China’s role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea, according to a letter from the Chinese government to St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. (Xu earned his Ph.D. at St. Antony’s College, and since his arrest, college personnel have actively researched and protested his case.) The Security Committee of the People’s Liberation Army in Guangzhou later determined that these documents should be labeled “top secret.”
The “economic crimes” charges are related to the “illegal publication” of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals since 1993, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing’s relations with Taiwan, according to official government documents.
Some observers believe that the charges against Xu are more likely related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) newsmagazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for Malaysian communist insurgency groups. Xu was arrested only days before the article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue. In the article, Xu accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy for condemning the United States and other countries for interfering in China’s internal affairs by criticizing its human rights record. “China’s support of world revolution is based on the concept of ‘class above sovereignty’… which is equivalent to the idea of ‘human rights above sovereignty,’ which the U.S. promotes today,” Xu wrote.
An appeal filed by Xu’s family was rejected.
Liu Weifang, freelance
Imprisoned: October 2000
Liu was arrested sometime after September 26, 2000, when security officials from the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, came to his house, confiscated his computer, and announced that he was being officially investigated, according to an account that Liu posted online. His most recent essay was dated October 20, 2000.
Liu had recently posted a number of essays criticizing China’s leaders and political system in Internet chat rooms. The essays, which the author signed either with his real name or with the initials “lgwf,” covered topics such as official corruption, development policies in China’s western regions, and environmental issues.
“The reasons for my actions are all above-board,” Liu wrote in one essay. “They are not aimed at any one person or any organization; rather, they are directed at any behavior in society that harms humanity. The goal is to speed up humanity’s progress and development.” The official Xinjiang Daily characterized Liu’s work as “a major threat to national security.” According to a June 15, 2001, report in the Xinjiang Daily, the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District’s Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Liu to three years in prison for “inciting subversion against state power.”
According to the terms of his sentence, Liu should have been released in October 2003, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on his legal status.
Jiang Weiping, freelance
Imprisoned: December 4, 2000
Jiang, a freelance journalist, was arrested after he published a number of articles in the Hong Kong-based magazine Qianshao (Frontline), a Chinese-language monthly focusing on mainland affairs. The stories exposed corruption scandals in northeastern China.
Jiang wrote the Qianshao articles, which were published between June and September 1999, under various pen names. His coverage exposed several major corruption scandals involving high-level officials. Notably, Jiang reported that Shenyang Vice Mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos. Jiang also revealed that Liaoning provincial Governor Bo Xilai had covered up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian mayor.
Soon after these cases were publicized in Qianshao and other Hong Kong media, central authorities detained Ma. He was accused of taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas and was executed for these crimes in December 2001. After Ma’s arrest, his case was widely reported in the domestic press and used as an example in the government’s ongoing fight against corruption. However, in May 2001, Jiang was indicted for “revealing state secrets.”
The Dalian Intermediate Court held a secret trial in September 2001. On January 25, 2002, the court formally sentenced Jiang to eight years in prison on charges including “inciting to subvert state power” and “illegally providing state secrets overseas.” This judgment amended an earlier decision to sentence Jiang to nine years. During the January sentencing, Jiang proclaimed his innocence and told the court that the verdict “trampled on the law,” according to CPJ sources. Jiang immediately appealed his sentence to the Liaoning Province Higher People’s Court. On December 26, 2002, the court heard the appeal and, while upholding Jiang’s guilty verdict, reduced his sentence to six years, according to the California-based Dui Hua Foundation, which has been in direct contact with the Chinese government about the case. A court official told The Associated Press that, “We just thought that his criminal records were not as serious as previously concluded.”
According to CPJ sources, Jiang has a serious stomach disorder and has been denied medical treatment. Held in a crowded cell in unsanitary conditions early in his prison term, he also contracted a skin disease. His wife, Li Yanling, was repeatedly interrogated and threatened following her husband’s arrest. In March 2002, the local public security bureau brought her in for questioning and detained her for several weeks.
An experienced journalist, Jiang had worked until May 2000 as the northeastern China bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Hui Bao. He contributed freelance articles to Qianshao. In the 1980s, he worked as a Dalian-based correspondent for Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
In November 2001, CPJ honored Jiang with its annual International Press Freedom Award. In February 2002, CPJ sent appeals to Chinese President Jiang Zemin from almost 600 supporters–including CBS news anchor Dan Rather, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord–demanding Jiang’s unconditional release. That month, U.S. President George W. Bush highlighted Jiang’s case in meetings with Jiang Zemin during a state visit to China.
Lu Xinhua, freelance
Imprisoned: March 10, 2001
Lu was arrested in Wuhan, Hubei Province, after articles he wrote about rural unrest and official corruption appeared on various Internet news sites based overseas. On April 20, 2001, he was charged with “inciting to subvert state power,” a charge frequently used against journalists who write about politically sensitive subjects. Lu’s trial began on September 18. On December 30, 2001, he was sentenced to four years in prison. He is due to be released in March 2005.
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan Web site
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Jin Haike, freelance
Zhang Honghai, freelance
Imprisoned: March 13, 2001
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were detained on March 13 and charged with subversion on April 20. On May 29, 2003, the Beijing Intermediate Court sentenced Xu and Jin to 10 years in prison each on subversion charges, while Yang and Zhang were sentenced to eight years each on similar charges.
The four were active participants in the Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals who explored topics related to political and social reform and used the Internet to circulate relevant articles.
Yang, the group’s most prominent member, published a Web site, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi’s Garden of Ideas), which featured poems, essays, and reports by various authors on subjects such as the shortcomings of rural elections. Authorities closed the site after Yang’s arrest.
When Xu, a reporter with Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), was detained on March 13, 2001, authorities confiscated his computer, other professional equipment, and books, according to an account published online by his girlfriend, Wang Ying. Wang reported that public security officials also ordered Xiaofei Ribao to fire Xu. The newspaper has refused to discuss his case with reporters, according to The Associated Press.
The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court tried all four on September 28, 2001. Prosecutors focused predominately on the group’s writings, including two essays circulated on the Internet called “Be a New Citizen, Reform China” and “What’s to Be Done?” According to the indictment papers, these articles demonstrated the group’s intention “to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and the socialist system and subvert the regime of the people’s democratic dictatorship.” In November 2003, the Beijing Supreme People’s Court rejected an appeal filed by a lawyer for Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang. In the appeal, the defense noted that three key witnesses who testified for the prosecution against the four men have since retracted their original testimony.
Wang Jinbo, freelance
Imprisoned: May 2001
Wang, a freelance journalist, was arrested in early May 2001 for e-mailing essays to overseas organizations arguing that the government should change its official view that the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square were “counterrevolutionary.” In October 2001, Wang was formally charged with “inciting to subvert state power.” On November 14, the Junan County Court in Shandong Province held a closed trial; only the journalists’ relatives were allowed to attend. On December 13, 2001, Wang was sentenced to four years in prison.
Wang, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, had been detained several times in the past for his political activities. In February 2001, days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited Beijing, he was briefly taken into custody after signing an open letter calling on the IOC to pressure China to release political prisoners. A number of Wang’s essays have been posted on various Internet sites. One, titled “My Account of Police Violations of Civil Rights,” describes his January 2001 detention, during which police interrogated him and held him for 20 hours with no food or heat after he signed an open letter calling for the release of political prisoners.
Tao Haidong, freelance
Imprisoned: July 9, 2002
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and charged with “incitement to subvert state power.” According to the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published Tao’s recent writing, his articles focused on political and legal reform. In one essay, titled “Strategies for China’s Social Reforms,” Tao wrote that “the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society should unite to push forward China’s freedom and democratic development or else stand condemned through the ages.”
Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of “re-education through labor” in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, according to the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing essays and articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to seven years in prison. His appeal to the XUAR Higher Court later in 2003 was rejected.
Zhang Wei, Shishi Zixun, Redian Jiyao
Imprisoned: July 19, 2002
Zhang was arrested and charged with illegal publishing after producing and selling two underground newspapers in Chongqing, in central China. According to an account published on the Web site of the Chongqing Press and Publishing Administration, a provincial government body that governs all local publications, beginning in April 2001, Zhang edited two newspapers, Shishi Zixun (Current Events) and Redian Jiyao (Summary of the Main Points), which included articles and graphics he had downloaded from the Internet.
Two of Zhang’s business associates, Zuo Shangwen and Ou Yan, were also arrested on July 19, 2002, and indicted for their involvement with the publications. Zuo printed the publications in neighboring Sichuan Province, while Ou managed the publications’ finances. At the time of their arrests, police confiscated 9,700 copies of Shishi Zixun.
The official account of their arrests stated that the two publications had “flooded” Chongqing’s publishing market. The government declared that “the political rumors, shocking ‘military reports,’ and other articles in these illegal publications misled the public, poisoned the youth, negatively influenced society and sparked public indignation.” Zhang, Zuo, and Ou printed more than 1.5 million copies of the publications and sold them in Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities.
On December 25, 2002, the Yuzhong District Court in Chongqing sentenced Zhang to six years in prison and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,000), the amount that police said he had earned in profits from the publications. Zuo was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), while Ou was sentenced to two years in prison.
Abdulghani Memetemin, East Turkestan Information Center
Imprisoned: July 26, 2002
Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was detained in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang, on charges of “leaking state secrets.”
In June 2003, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to nine years in prison, plus a three-year suspension of political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against Memetemin, including translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur; forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet that advocates for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group; and conducting original reporting for the center. The court also accused him of recruiting additional reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial and has not been in contact with his wife or children since his arrest. His harsh punishment reflects the ongoing and near total suppression of the spread of information in Xinjiang.
Chen Shaowen, freelance
Imprisoned: August 2002
Chen, a freelance writer, was arrested on suspicion of “using the Internet to subvert state power,” the official Hunan Daily reported on September 14, 2002. The article did not give the date of Chen’s arrest, although Boxun News, an overseas online news service, reported that he was arrested on August 6, 2002.
Chen, who lives in Lianyuan, Hunan Province, has written numerous essays and articles for various overseas Chinese-language Web sites, including the online magazine Huang Hua Gang and Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). According to his biography on Minzhu Luntan, Chen’s essays covered topics including China’s unemployment problem, social inequalities, and flaws in the legal system.
The Hunan Daily article accused Chen of “repeatedly browsing reactionary websites … sending in numerous articles of all sorts, fabricating, distorting and exaggerating relevant facts, and vilifying the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system.” The report stated that Chen had published more than 40 articles on overseas “reactionary” Web sites. It is not clear whether he has been formally charged.
Cai Lujun, freelance
Imprisoned: February 21, 2003
Cai was arrested at his home in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. In October 2003, the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to three years in prison on subversion charges.
Cai, 35, had used pen names to write numerous essays distributed online calling for political reforms. His articles included “Political Democracy Is the Means; A Powerful Country and Prosperous Citizenry Is the Goal”; “An Outline for Building and Governing the Country”; and “The Course of Chinese Democracy.”
Following the November 2002 arrest of Internet essayist Liu Di, Cai Lujun began to publish online essays under his own name calling for Liu’s release and expressing his political views. (Liu was released on November 28, 2003.)
Luo Changfu, freelance
Imprisoned: March 13, 2003
Public security officials arrested Luo at his home in Chongqing municipality and charged him with “subversion.” On November 6, 2003, the Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate Court sentenced him to three years in prison.
Luo, 40, is an unemployed factory worker. Before his arrest, he had actively campaigned for the release of Internet essayist Liu Di, who was arrested in November 2002 and released on bail a year later. Luo had written a series of articles calling for Liu’s release and protesting the Chinese government’s censorship of online speech. His essays also called for political reforms in China.
In the 1980s, Luo was sent to a re-education-through-labor camp for three years for his dissident activities, according to the New York-based organization Human Rights in China.
Yan Jun, freelance
Imprisoned: April 2003
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.
Luo Yongzhong, freelance
Imprisoned: June 14, 2003
Luo, who has written numerous articles that have been distributed online, was detained in Changchun, Jilin Province. On July 7, he was formally arrested. On October 14, the Changchun Intermediate Court sentenced him to three years in prison and two years without political rights upon his release, which is scheduled for June 13, 2006.
In sentencing papers, which have been widely distributed online, the court stated that between May and June 2003, Luo wrote several essays that “attacked the socialist system, incited to subvert state power, and created a negative influence on society.” Several specific articles were cited as evidence, including “At Last We See the Danger of the Three Represents!”–a reference to a political theory formulated by former President Jiang Zemin–and “Tell Today’s Youth the Truth about June 4,” a reference to the military crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters in June 1989. According to the court papers, the articles were published on online forums including Shuijing Luntan (Crystal) Web site.
Luo, who has a crippled leg, has also written a number of articles advocating the rights of disabled people.
Huang Jinqiu, Boxun News
Imprisoned: September 13, 2003
Huang, a columnist for the U.S.-based dissident news Web site Boxun News, was arrested in Jiangsu Province. Huang’s family was not officially notified of his arrest until January 2004. The Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him on September 27, 2004, to 12 years in prison on charges of “subversion of state power.” Huang plans to appeal his sentence.
Huang worked as a writer and editor in his native Shandong Province, as well as in Guangdong Province, before leaving China in 2000 to study journalism at the Central Academy of Art in Malaysia. While he was overseas, Huang began writing political commentary for Boxun News under the pen name “Qing Shuijun.” He also wrote articles on arts and entertainment under the name “Huang Jin.” Huang’s writings reportedly caught the attention of the government in 2001. Huang told a friend that authorities had contacted his family to warn them about his writing, according to Boxun News.
In January 2003, Huang wrote in his online column that he intended to form a new opposition party, the China Patriot Democracy Party. When he returned to China in August 2003, he eluded public security agents just long enough to visit his family in Shandong Province. In the last article he posted on Boxun News, titled “Me and My Public Security Friends,” Huang described being followed and harassed by security agents.
Kong Youping, freelance
Imprisoned: December 13, 2003
Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning Province. He had written articles online that supported democratic reforms and called for a reversal of the government’s “counterrevolutionary” ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Kong’s essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, “In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing.” Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning Province branch of the China Democracy Party, an opposition party. On September 16, 2004, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison.
Yu Huafeng, Nanfang Dushi Bao
Li Minying, Nanfang Dushi Bao
Imprisoned: January 2004
The Dongshan District Court in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, sentenced Yu, Nanfang Dushi Bao deputy editor-in-chief and general manager, to 12 years in prison on corruption charges. Li, former editor of Nanfang Dushi Bao, was sentenced to 11 years for bribery in a related case. Li also served on the Communist Party Committee of the Nanfang Daily Group, the newspaper’s parent company,
In an appellate trial held on June 7, 2004, Li’s sentence was reduced to six years in prison, while Yu’s sentence was reduced to eight years.
Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News) became very popular in recent years for its aggressive investigative reporting on social issues and wrongdoing by local officials. The paper broke news that a young graphic designer, Sun Zhigang, was beaten to death in March 2003 while being held in police custody in Guangzhou. Public outcry over Sun’s death led to the arrest of several local government and police officials.
On December 26, 2003, Nanfang Dushi Bao reported a suspected SARS case in Guangzhou, the first new case in China since the epidemic died out in July 2003. The government had not yet publicly released information about the case when the newspaper’s report was published. Editors and reporters who worked on the SARS story were reprimanded. Yu was detained on January 14, 2004, according to a report in the official, English-language China Daily.
According to a March 19 report in the official Xinhua News Agency, Yu was convicted of embezzling 580,000 yuan (US$70,000) and distributing the money to members of the paper’s editorial committee. The court also accused Yu of paying Li a total of 800,000 yuan (US$97,000) in bribes while Li was editor of Nanfang Dushi Bao. Li was accused of accepting bribes totaling 970,000 (US$117,000).
Both men maintain that the money was acquired legally and was distributed in routine bonus payments to the staff. Chinese journalists familiar with the case have told CPJ that evidence presented in court did not support the corruption charges.
In recent years, government authorities have made moves to consolidate control over the Nanfang Daily Group, which owns a number of China’s most independent and popular newspapers, including Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) and Ershiyi Shiji Jingji Baodao (21st Century Economic Herald). In March 2003, Ershiyi Shiji Huanqiu Baodao (21st Century World Herald), also owned by the Nanfang Daily Group, was closed after it ran a series of sensitive stories, including an interview with a former secretary of Mao Zedong who called for political reforms.
Liu Shui, Nanfang Dushi Bao, Shenzhen Wanbao
Imprisoned: May 2, 2004
Police in Shenzhen detained Liu and a friend on charges of “soliciting prostitution.” They were brought to a detention center, where they were questioned. The next day, Liu’s friend was released, according to press reports.
Liu was transferred to Xili Detention Center in Shenzhen, where he has been sentenced to two years of “custody and education,” a form of administrative detention designed for accused prostitutes and their clients. According to Chinese law, authorities can sentence individuals to up to two years of “custody and education” without holding a trial or filing formal charges.
Prior to his arrest, Liu had written a number of essays commemorating the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, advocating for the release of political prisoners, and calling for political reforms. Many of his essays were posted on Chinese-language Web sites hosted overseas.
Liu had worked as an editor and reporter for publications including Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis News) and Shenzhen Wanbao (Shenzhen Evening News), according to news reports.
This is the fourth time Liu has been arrested. In 1989, he was active in the democracy movement in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, and subsequently spent a year and three months in prison on charges of “counterrevolutionary propaganda and organization.” In 1994, he spent three years in prison on “counterrevolutionary propaganda” charges after editing a book titled The Truth About the June 4th Incident. He was also briefly detained in 1998.
Liu wrote a number of essays, news reports, and poems that have been published online. In an article published on April 23, 2004, he reported on an anticorruption protester in Shanghai whom police had beaten and detained. He also published a poem in tribute to the Tiananmen Mothers, a group of women whose relatives were killed or injured in the June 4, 1989, military crackdown. In one of his most recent articles, which was posted online on April 27, he interviewed family members of the New Youth Study Group–four young men serving lengthy prison sentences on “subversion” charges for using the Internet to distribute articles on social and political issues.
Zhao Yan, The New York Times
Imprisoned: September 17, 2004
Zhao, a news assistant at The New York Times Beijing bureau and a former reporter for Beijing-based China Reform magazine, was detained in Shanghai. Zhao’s lawyer Mo Shaoping has been unable to contact him, according to international news reports, and authorities did not respond to various international inquiries about the reason for his detention.
On September 21, Zhao’s family received a notice from the Beijing State Security Bureau accusing Zhao of “providing state secrets to foreigners,” according to international news reports. Mo said these allegations could lead to a charge of treason, a crime punishable by execution. Prosecutors issued a formal arrest warrant for Zhao on October 20 but did not specify the alleged actions leading to his arrest.
The detention followed an article in The New York Times revealing Jiang Zemin’s plan to retire from the position of chairman of the Central Military Commission. The September 7 article preceded the official announcement of the final transfer of leadership to Hu Jintao on September 19 and cited unnamed sources with ties to leadership.
Zhao’s associates have speculated that the journalist is under investigation as the source of the leak. The New York Times said that Zhao–who worked as a researcher for the Times and not as a reporter–did not provide any state secrets to the newspaper and was not involved in the September 7 story.
Zhao began working at The New York Times in May after leaving his job as a reporter for China Reform magazine. Police harassed Zhao on multiple occasions in 2004 after he reported aggressively for the Beijing-based magazine on government abuse of peasants across China. In June, police raided Zhao’s family home. According to the New York-based organization Human Rights in China, the raid startled Zhao’s elderly father and precipitated a decline in his health; he died a few days later.
Zhao has also worked as an activist for peasants’ rights. In December, authorities detained Li Boguang, a legal scholar who had worked with Zhao in advocating for peasants involved in a land dispute with officials in the southeastern city of Fu’an. Li’s detention followed an online article titled “Can citizens dismiss a mayor?” According to that article, Zhao and Li were helping the Fu’an farmers petition the central government for redress.
In October, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed concern about Zhao Yan’s case to Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who responded that it was an internal matter.
Zhang Ruquan (also known as Zhang Qianfu), freelance
Imprisoned: October 15, 2004
Detained under suspicion of “inciting subversion of state authority,” freelance writer Zhang Ruquan was later prosecuted on criminal defamation charges for writing an essay criticizing Chinese leadership since the death of Mao Zedong. Zhang Ruquan is better known by his usual pen name, Zhang Qianfu.
In a closed trial on December 24, 2004, the People’s Court of Jinshui District in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan Province, convicted Zhang Ruquan, along with his associate Zhang Zhengyao, in a public prosecution on charges of defamation that “seriously undermined social order or the state interest.” The two were sentenced to three years in prison for defaming former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
The charges stemmed from early September, when Zhang Ruquan wrote a commemorative essay titled “Mao Zedong–Forever Our Leader,” which was posted online and printed in leaflets. On September 9, the 28th anniversary of Mao’s death, Zhang Zhengyao distributed the leaflets in Zhengzhou’s Zijinshan Square and was arrested by plainclothes public security officers.
Authorities detained Zhang Zhengyao and another man, Wang Zhanqing, who printed the leaflets. Zhang Ruquan and Zhang Zhengyao’s wife, Ge Liying, who posted the article online, were placed under house arrest, apparently in consideration of their age and health.
In the article, which Zhang Ruquan wrote under the pen name Song Mei, he expressed nostalgia for Mao’s rule. He also criticized the Chinese Communist Party for abandoning China’s workers. “As a result of the commercialization of education, health care, cultural activities, sports, and legal recourse … they have in effect been deprived of the right to send their children to school, access to health care, the right to pension … and even the right to legal protection,” he wrote.
In particular, he criticized former leader Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, who at that time held the position of chairman of the Central Military Commission, for representing only the interests of “imperialism” and the upper classes.
Zhang Ruquan has written under the name Zhang Qianfu for a number of Maoist Web sites and magazines in China, including the prominent leftist magazine Zhong Liu (Midstream).
Shi Tao, freelance
Imprisoned: November 24, 2004
Police from the security bureau of Changsha, Hunan Province, detained freelance journalist Shi near his home in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province. In the days following his detention, authorities confiscated the journalist’s computer and other documents, warning his family to keep quiet about the matter, according to a statement posted online by Shi’s brother, Shi Hua.
Shi’s family was notified that the journalist was being held in Changsha on suspicion of “leaking state secrets,” an extremely serious charge that can lead to lengthy imprisonment or death. Authorities did not tell his family exactly what brought about the allegations.
Until May, Shi was a journalist for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Trade News), which is based in Changsha. Shi has also written essays for overseas Internet forums, including Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). In an essay he posted in April titled “The Most Disgusting Day,” Shi criticized the Chinese government for the March 28 detention of Ding Zilin, an activist for the Tiananmen Mothers group whose 17-year-old son was killed in the military crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations.
On December 14, authorities issued a formal arrest order charging Shi with “leaking state secrets to foreigners.” Shi’s defense lawyer told CPJ that he has been unable to meet or talk with his client and was turned away by local public security officers when he traveled to Changsha to visit Shi in late December.
Yang Tianshui, freelance
Imprisoned: December 24, 2004
Police arrested Internet writer and pro-democracy activist Yang at his home in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, in the late evening of December 24 and took him to a police station, according to international news reports. On December 26, police told his family that Yang had been transferred to police custody in Nanjing, Yang’s official place of residence, according to local sources. Authorities did not state a reason for his detention.
On December 31, Yang’s sister received official notification from the Nanjing Public Security Bureau that Yang was being held under suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power,” according to the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), an organization that advocates for independent writers and journalists in China.
Yang, who is a member of the ICPC, is a regular contributor to overseas Chinese-language news sites. He has written about human rights abuses in China’s prison system and wrote a number of recent articles about government corruption and high unemployment, as well as pieces criticizing the Chinese Communist Party.
According to international news reports and the ICPC, Yang was previously imprisoned for 10 years on “counterrevolution” charges for condemning the government’s brutal military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989. On May 27, Yang was detained for 15 days for breaking the terms of his probation by writing essays commemorating the 15th anniversary of the incident.
Alejandro González Raga, freelance
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
González Raga, an independent freelance journalist based in central Camagüey Province, was tried and convicted under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to a 14-year prison term, which he is serving in Canaleta prison in central Ciego de Àvila Province.
Alfredo Pulido López, El Mayor
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Pulido López, director of the independent news agency El Mayor in central Camagüey Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison and taken to the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, hundreds of miles from his home. In August 2004, he was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison, in his native Camagüey Province.
Iván Hernández Carrillo, Patria
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Hernández Carrillo, a journalist with the independent news agency Patria in western Matanzas Province, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison, which he is now serving at Cuba Sí Prison in eastern Holguín Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
Hernández Carrillo was originally placed in the Holguín Provincial Prison. In August 2003, he joined imprisoned journalists Adolfo Fernández Saínz and Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández in a 13-day hunger strike to demand adequate food and medicine. That October, prison officials placed Hernández Carrillo in a punishment cell after he complained of illness. To protest his treatment, he began a hunger strike that ended in early November 2003.
In late February 2004, after receiving several threats from other prisoners and prison officials, Hernández Carrillo started yet another hunger strike to demand a transfer to another prison unit. He ended the strike around March 12, when he was placed in another unit within the Holguín Provincial Prison. He was transferred to Cuba Sí Prison in August 2004.
José Gabriel Ramón Castillo, Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Ramón Castillo, director of the independent news agency Instituto Cultura y Democracia Press, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term. He is currently jailed at Villa Clara Provincial Prison in central Villa Clara Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
In July 2004, prison officials searched Ramón Castillo’s cell and confiscated his notes, a diary, and letters, according to the Miami-based CubaNet Web site.
José Luis García Paneque, Libertad
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
García Paneque, director of the independent news agency Libertad in eastern Las Tunas Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison, which he is now serving at Cuba Sí Prison in eastern Holguín Province.
In May 2003, García Paneque was sent to Guamajal Prison in central Villa Clara Province. In August, he was transferred to the Villa Clara Provincial Prison. His wife, Yamilé Yanez, told CPJ that he lost 30 to 35 pounds in the initial months of his imprisonment. García Paneque also suffers from asthma.
In July 2004, García Paneque was moved to Cuba Sí Prison. In October, Yanez sent a letter to Cuban authorities demanding her husband’s release, the Spanish news agency EFE reported. The letter expressed Yanez’s concern about her husband’s malnutrition and frequent bouts of diarrhea, according to EFE.
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez, freelance
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Gálvez Rodríguez, a Havana-based independent freelance journalist, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is now jailed at La Pendiente Prison in central Villa Clara Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
Gálvez Rodríguez suffers from several ailments, including high blood pressure, liver problems, high cholesterol, and urinary problems. These illnesses have either arisen or worsened during his imprisonment, according to his wife, Beatriz del Carmen Pedroso. From February 26 to July 9, 2004, Gálvez was hospitalized, and on March 11 a stone was removed from his gallbladder. In July, Pedroso told CPJ she was very worried about her husband’s health, including his increased nervousness, and said she would apply for a medical parole on his behalf.
Léster Luis González Pentón, freelance
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
González Pentón, an independent journalist based in central Villa Clara Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in April 2003. He is currently jailed at the Villa Clara Provincial Prison, in central Villa Clara Province.
In late April 2003, González Pentón was sent to Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey Province, hundreds of miles from his home. In November of that year, he was transferred to Kilo 7 Prison, which is adjacent to Kilo 8. In August 2004, he was moved to the Villa Clara Provincial Prison.
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez, Havana Press
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Galván Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Havana Press, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison, which he is serving at Agüica Prison in western Matanzas Province.
In May 2004, Galván Gutiérrez was moved from solitary confinement to a cell with hardened criminals, according to the Miami-based CubaNet Web site. In a May phone call from prison, he told his family that prison officials had threatened him and were inciting other prisoners to attack him, CubaNet reported.
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, Nueva Prensa Cubana
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Rodríguez Saludes, director of the independent news agency Nueva Prensa Cubana, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison. He is currently jailed at Agüica Prison in western Matanzas Province.
In late April 2003, he was sent to the Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey Province, hundreds of miles from his home. In December of that year, he was transferred to Nieves Morejón Prison in central Sancti Spíritus Province.
In May 2004, his wife, Ileana Marrero Joa, told CPJ that Rodríguez Saludes was in good health but was being fed poor-quality meals and was surviving on the food she brought in her visits to prison. In August 2004, the journalist was moved to Agüica Prison.
Pedro Argüelles Morán, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Argüelles Morán, director of the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes in central Ciego de &AACUTE;vila Province, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he received a 20-year prison term, which he is serving at Nieves Morejón Prison in central Sancti Spíritus Province.
Argüelles Morán has been moved from prison to prison several times. First he was sent to the La Pendiente Prison in central Villa Clara Province, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from his home. Then he was transferred to the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana, where he spent more than a year. Before being moved to Nieves Morejón Prison in August 2004, he was briefly taken to Guanajay Prison in western Habana Province.
His wife, Yolanda Vera Nerey, told CPJ in November that Argüelles Morán suffered from inflammation in his left knee. In late November, he was taken to the Combinado del Este Prison for a medical checkup. Journalist Jorge Olivera Castillo, who was formerly held in the same prison, said Argüelles Morán was suffering from heart problems.
Ricardo González Alfonso, freelance
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
González Alfonso, an independent freelance journalist and Cuba correspondent for the Paris-based press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term. González Alfonso, who is also the president of the independent journalists’ association Sociedad de Periodistas Manuel Márquez Sterling, is currently jailed at Agüica Prison in western Matanzas Province.
In late April 2003, González Alfonso was taken to Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey Province, hundreds of miles from his home. He spent seven months in solitary confinement there. In November 2003, he was transferred to a cell with hardened criminals who harassed him. He suffered from high blood pressure and had to be taken to a hospital, where doctors found a cyst in his throat and recommended its removal. He was scheduled to return to the hospital that December to have the lumps removed, but the appointment was postponed until January 2004.
González Alfonso went on a two-week hunger strike in December 2003 to demand his transfer to another unit within the prison where he could be with other political prisoners. As punishment for the strike, prison officials placed him in a small cell with no running water that was lit 24 hours a day, where he remained until late December 2003.
In late January 2004, doctors performed a biopsy on him, which was negative. Following a doctor’s advice, González Alfonso decided not to have the cyst removed surgically, according to his wife, &AACUTE;lida Viso Bello. In late July, González Alfonso was admitted to the Amalia Simoni Hospital in the city of Camagüey, where he was diagnosed with hepatitis. In August, he was taken to Agüica Prison in Matanzas Province.
In December, he was taken to the hospital at Combinado del Este Prison in Havana for a medical checkup. His wife, Viso Bello, said he has gallstones requiring surgery.
Víctor Rolando Arroyo Carmona, Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI)
Imprisoned: March 18, 2003
Arroyo Carmona, a journalist with the independent news agency Unión de Periodistas y Escritores de Cuba Independientes (UPECI) in western Pinar del Río Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he received a 26-year prison sentence, which he is serving at the Guantánamo Provincial Prison in eastern Guantánamo Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
In December 2004, Arroyo Carmona was taken to the Combinado del Este Prison in Havana for a medical checkup. According to the Miami-based CubaNet Web site, which quoted his wife, Elsa González Padrón, he was diagnosed with pulmonary emphysema and other ailments.
Adolfo Fernández Saínz, Patria
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Fernández Saínz, a journalist with the independent news agency Patria, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is currently jailed at the Holguín Provincial Prison in eastern Holguín Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
In August 2003, Fernández Saínz joined imprisoned journalists Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández and Iván Hernández Carrillo in a 13-day hunger strike to demand adequate food and medicine. In mid-October, Fernández Saínz and Mayo Hernández joined four other jailed dissidents in a hunger strike to protest the treatment of Hernández Carrillo, who was placed in a punishment cell after complaining about feeling ill. The strike ended in early November 2003. As punishment for his involvement in the hunger strike, Fernández Saínz was transferred to another prison unit.
In early March 2004, Fernández Saínz began another hunger strike in solidarity with Hernández Carrillo, who went on a hunger strike after receiving several threats from other prisoners and prison officials. Fernández Saínz ended the strike around March 12, when Hernández Carrillo’s demands to be transferred to another unit within the Holguín Provincial Prison were met.
Julia Núñez Pacheco, the wife of Fernández Saínz, told CPJ in April that she was very concerned that the hunger strikes and poor prison food had taken a heavy toll on her husband, who had lost 30 to 40 pounds. In addition, he has chronic conjunctivitis, which has worsened while in jail because of the inadequate sanitary conditions.
In early December 2004, Fernández Saínz was taken to the Combinado del Este Prison for a medical checkup, which revealed he had several ailments, including pulmonary emphysema, hiatal hernia, high blood pressure, and a small kidney cyst.
Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, freelance
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Fuentes, an independent freelance journalist based in western Habana Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to a 26-year prison term, which he is serving at Guamajal Prison in central Villa Clara Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
His wife, Loyda Valdés González, told CPJ in May 2004 that her husband was fed broth and foul-smelling ground meat for months. As a result, he lost a lot of weight, some of which he recovered after spending a month at a hospital in the city of Santa Clara.
In June, Valdés González said her husband was otherwise in good health. But because the 55-year-old Fuentes was sentenced to 26 years in jail, she said, she was afraid he would die in prison.
Fabio Prieto Llorente, freelance
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Prieto Llorente, an independent freelance journalist based in western Isla de la Juventud Special Municipality, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is currently jailed at Kilo 8 Prison in central Camagüey Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
In May of that year, he was taken to Guanajay Prison, in western Habana Province. He was transferred to Kilo 8 in February 2004, according to his sister Clara Lourdes Prieto Llorente. The transfer to Kilo 8 made him depressed, his sister said, because it was far from his home, making it difficult for his family to visit. Prieto Llorente, who was placed in a damp and poorly lit cell on his arrival at Kilo 8, suffers from hemorrhoids, has had rectal bleeding, and has had several high blood pressure bouts. In May, his sister said, he was coughing a lot and had back pain.
On August 11, Prieto Llorente went on a hunger strike to demand a transfer to a prison closer to home, according to the Miami-based CubaNet Web site. He subsequently ended his hunger strike, and on August 30 his mother and sister visited him. He has been harassed for protesting his conditions, according to CubaNet.
Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Maseda Gutiérrez, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state”; and under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he received a 20-year prison term, which he is serving at La Pendiente Prison in central Villa Clara Province.
In July 2003, Maseda Gutiérrez’s wife, Laura Pollán, told CPJ that he had been diagnosed with skin rashes triggered by prison conditions. Pollán said that prison authorities would not allow her to bring clean sheets and medicine to her husband.
In August 2004, Maseda Gutiérrez was transferred to a cell with repeat offenders, according to Pollán. He was concerned that prison authorities would encourage the hardened prisoners to harass him. Pollán said she appealed to Cuban authorities to grant him amnesty, but government officials did not respond to her request.
José Ubaldo Izquierdo, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Ubaldo Izquierdo, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in western Habana Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison. He is currently jailed at Guanajay Prison in western Habana Province.
In April 2003, Izquierdo was taken to Kilo 5 1/2 Prison in western Pinar del Río Province, hundreds of miles from his home. In August 2004, he was moved to Guanajay Prison.
Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta, Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Herrera Acosta, a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia de Prensa Libre Oriental in eastern Guantánamo Province, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he received a 20-year prison term, which he is serving at Kilo 7 Prison in central Camagüey Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
In August 2003, Herrera Acosta joined imprisoned journalists Manuel Vázquez Portal and Normando Hernández González and other jailed dissidents at Boniato Prison in a one-week hunger strike. As punishment for his involvement, he was transferred to Kilo 8 Prison, which is adjacent to Kilo 7. In November 2003, he was transferred back to Kilo 7.
In October 2004, the Miami-based organization Directorio Democrático Cubano, quoting Herrera Acosta’s wife, Ileana Danger Hardy, said that prison officials badly beat the journalist on October 13.
Mario Enrique Mayo Hernández, Félix Varela
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Mayo Hernández, the director of the independent news agency Félix Varela, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which he is serving at Mar Verde Prison in eastern Santiago de Cuba Province.
In August 2003, Mayo Hernández joined imprisoned journalists Adolfo Fernández Saínz and Iván Hernández Carrillo in a 13-day hunger strike to demand better food and adequate medical attention. In mid-October, Fernández Saínz and Mayo Hernández joined other jailed dissidents in another hunger strike to protest the treatment of Hernández Carrillo, who was placed in a punishment cell after complaining of feeling ill. As punishment for his involvement, Mayo Hernández was transferred from Holguín Provincial Prison to Mar Verde Prison.
Mijaíl Bárzaga Lugo, Agencia Noticiosa Cubana
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Bárzaga Lugo, a journalist with the independent news agency Agencia Noticiosa Cubana in Havana, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, which he is serving at Villa Clara Provincial Prison in central Villa Clara Province, hundreds of miles from his home.
Normando Hernández González, Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Hernández González, director of the independent news agency Colegio de Periodistas Independientes de Camagüey, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He is currently jailed at Kilo 5 1/2 Prison in western Pinar del Río Province.
In April 2003, he was sent to Boniato Prison in eastern Santiago de Cuba Province. In August, Hernández González joined imprisoned journalist Manuel Vázquez Portal and other jailed dissidents at Boniato Prison in a one-week hunger strike. As punishment for his involvement in the strike, Hernández González was sent to Kilo 5 1/2 Prison in Pinar del Río, on the opposite end of the island.
In May 2004, Hernández González began a hunger strike to protest his transfer to a cell with hardened criminals at Kilo 5 1/2. He began his hunger strike on May 7, when prison guards removed him from solitary confinement and placed him with the general prison population, his wife, Yaraí Reyes, told CPJ. During a family visit on May 12, Reyes said, her husband looked very thin, haggard, and pale. Before the visit, prison officials met with Reyes and told her that she should persuade her husband to stop the hunger strike. He ended the strike in late May.
Omar Ruiz Hernández, Grupo de Trabajo Decoro
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Ruiz Hernández, a journalist with the independent news agency Grupo de Trabajo Decoro in central Villa Clara Province, was tried under Article 91 of the Penal Code, which imposes lengthy prison sentences or death for those who act against “the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” In April 2003, he received an 18-year prison term. He is currently jailed at Canaleta Prison in central Ciego de Àvila Province.
In April 2003, Ruiz Hernández was sent to the Guantánamo Provincial Prison in eastern Guantánamo Province, hundreds of miles from his home. In March 2004, his wife, Bárbara Maritza Rojo Arias, told CPJ that he was very stressed, was having chest pain, and was suffering from high blood pressure. Because his prison cell was poorly lit, his eyes became irritated whenever he was exposed to sunlight, Rojo Arias said. In August 2004, Ruiz Hernández was transferred to Canaleta Prison.
Pablo Pacheco Àvila, Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes
Imprisoned: March 19, 2003
Pacheco Àvila, a journalist with the independent news agency Cooperativa Avileña de Periodistas Independientes, was tried under Law 88 for the Protection of Cuba’s National Independence and Economy, which imposes up to 20 years in prison for committing acts “aimed at subverting the internal order of the nation and destroying its political, economic, and social system.” In April 2003, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which he began serving at Agüica Prison in western Matanzas Province, hundreds of miles from his home. In August 2004, he was moved to Morón Prison in Ciego de &AACUTE;vila, his native province.
Zemenfes Haile, Tsigenay
Imprisoned: January 1999
Haile, founder and manager of the private weekly Tsigenay, was detained by Eritrean authorities and sent to Zara Labor Camp in the country’s lowland desert. Authorities accused Haile of failing to complete the National Service Program, but sources told CPJ that the journalist completed the program in 1994.
Near the end of 2000, Haile was transferred to an unknown location, and friends and relatives have not seen or heard from him since. CPJ sources in Eritrea believe that Haile’s continued detention is part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Ghebrehiwet Keleta, Tsigenay
Imprisoned: July 2000
Keleta, a reporter for the private weekly Tsigenay, was taken by security agents on his way to work sometime in July 2000 and has not been seen since. The reasons for Keleta’s arrest remain unclear, but CPJ sources in Eritrea believe that Keleta’s continued detention is part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Selamyinghes Beyene, Meqaleh
Imprisoned: Fall 2001
Beyene, a reporter for the independent weekly Meqaleh, was arrested sometime in the fall of 2001 and has been missing since, CPJ sources said. CPJ was unable to confirm the reasons for his arrest, but Eritrean sources believe that his detention was part of the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001. According to Eritrean sources, the government claimed that Beyene was performing his national service requirement.
Amanuel Asrat, Zemen
Imprisoned: September 2001
Medhanie Haile, Keste Debena
Imprisoned: September 18, 2001
Yusuf Mohamed Ali, Tsigenay
Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh
Imprisoned: September 19, 2001
Temesken Ghebreyesus, Keste Debena
Said Abdelkader, Admas
Imprisoned: September 20, 2001
Dawit Isaac, Setit
Seyoum Fsehaye, freelance
Imprisoned: September 21, 2001
Dawit Habtemichael, Meqaleh
Imprisoned: September 21, 2001
Fesshaye “Joshua” Yohannes, Setit
Imprisoned: September 27, 2001
Beginning September 18, 2001, Eritrean security forces arrested at least 10 local journalists. The arrests came less than a week after authorities abruptly closed all privately owned newspapers, allegedly to safeguard national unity in the face of growing political turmoil in the tiny Horn of Africa nation.
International news reports quoted presidential adviser Yemane Gebremeskel as saying that the journalists may have been arrested for avoiding military service. Sources in the capital, Asmara, however, say that at least two of the detained journalists, freelance photographer Fsehaye and Mohamed Ali, editor of Tsigenay, are legally exempt from national service. Fsehaye is reportedly exempt because he is an independence war veteran, while Mohamed Ali is apparently well over the maximum age for military service.
CPJ sources in Asmara maintain that the suspension and subsequent arrests of independent journalists were part of a full-scale government effort to suppress political dissent in advance of December 2001 elections, which the government canceled without explanation.
On March 31, 2002, the 10 jailed reporters began a hunger strike to protest their continued detention without charge, according to local and international sources. In a message smuggled from inside the Police Station One detention center in Asmara, the journalists said they would refuse food until they were either released or charged and given a fair trial. Three days later, nine of the strikers were transferred to an undisclosed detention facility. CPJ sources said the 10th journalist, Isaac, was sent to a hospital, where he was treated for posttraumatic stress disorder, allegedly the result of torture while in police custody.
The imprisonment of Isaac, who has dual Eritrean and Swedish nationality, has become a well-known case in Sweden. The Swedish government has undertaken diplomatic efforts on Isaac’s behalf, but thus far has been unable to win his release.
Hamid Mohammed Said, Eritrean State Television
Saidia Ahmed, Eritrean State Television
Saleh Aljezeeri, Eritrean State Radio
Imprisoned: February 15, 2002
During a July 2002 fact-finding mission to the capital, Asmara, CPJ delegates confirmed that on or about February 15, Eritrean authorities arrested Said, a journalist for the state-run Eritrean State Television (ETV); Ahmed, a journalist with the Arabic-language service of ETV; and Aljezeeri, a journalist for Eritrean State Radio. All three remained in government custody at the end of 2004.
The reasons for their arrests are unclear, but CPJ sources in Eritrea believe that their continued detention is related to the government’s general crackdown on the press, which began in September 2001.
Aklilu Solomon, Voice of America
Imprisoned: July 8, 2003
Solomon, stringer for the U.S. government-funded Voice of America (VOA) news service based in the capital, Asmara, was stripped of his press accreditation by Eritrean authorities on June 27, after he reported on the families of soldiers who had died during Eritrea’s 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. Solomon’s report that the families were anguished over the soldiers’ deaths contradicted state media coverage, which claimed that the families had celebrated because they were proud of their relatives’ service, according to the VOA. Authorities said that Solomon’s reporting was biased and designed to “please the enemy.”
On July 8, Eritrean security officers arrested Solomon at his home and took him away to an undisclosed location. Authorities claimed that Solomon was taken to complete his military service, although the VOA said he had documents proving that he had a medical exemption. CPJ sources said Solomon has been held incommunicado in a metal shipping container at Adi Abeto Prison, near the capital, Asmara.
Sources in Asmara told VOA that Eritrean police returned to Solomon’s home shortly after his arrest, cut his phone line, and confiscated his tape recorder and tapes.
Akbar Ganji, Sobh-e-Emrooz, Fath
Imprisoned: April 22, 2000
Ganji, a leading investigative reporter for the now defunct reformist daily Sobh-eEmrooz and a member of the editorial board of the now defunct, pro-reform daily Fath, was prosecuted in Iran’s Press Court and its Revolutionary Court.
The case in the Press Court stemmed from Ganji’s investigative articles about the 1998 killings of several dissidents and intellectuals that implicated top intelligence officials and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. In the Revolutionary Court, Ganji was accused of promoting propaganda against the Islamic regime and threatening national security in comments he made at an April 2000 conference in Berlin on the future of the reform movement in Iran.
The result of the case in the Press Court remains unclear, but on January 13, 2001, the Revolutionary Court sentenced Ganji to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of internal exile. In May 2001, after Ganji had already served more than a year in prison, an appellate court reduced his punishment to six months.
The Iranian Justice Department then appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate court had committed errors in commuting the original 10-year sentence. The Supreme Court overturned the appellate court’s decision and referred the case to a different appeals court. On July 16, 2001, that court sentenced Ganji to six years in jail. According to the state news agency IRNA, the ruling was “definitive,” meaning that it cannot be appealed.
Mohamed Zaki, Sandhaanu
Imprisoned: January 30, 2002
Ahmed Didi, Sandhaanu
Imprisoned: February 5, 2002
Zaki, Didi, and Ibrahim Luthfee–businessmen who founded, edited, and wrote for the Dhivehi-language Internet publication Sandhaanu–were arrested along with their secretary, Fathimath Nisreen.
All four were held in solitary confinement for five months until their sentencing on July 7, 2002. After a summary three-day trial, they were convicted of defamation, incitement to violence, and treason. Didi, Luthfee, and Zaki were sentenced to life imprisonment and one year of banishment for defamation, and Nisreen received a 10-year prison sentence, with a one-year banishment for defamation. The four were sent to Maafushi Prison, which is known for its harsh conditions, 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of the capital, Male.
Before Sandhaanu was effectively closed in early 2002, the Web site attracted a large audience by local standards, according to Luthfee. The independent publication criticized the government for alleged abuse of power and called for political reform. There is no independent press in the Maldives. Television and radio are state-run, and the country’s three newspapers are under government control. Although the Maldivian government claims that the four received a fair trial, Luthfee told CPJ that officials denied the defendants’ requests for legal representation at the time of the trial.
A Maldives government representative in London sent a statement to the BBC in 2003 claiming that the charges against Didi, Luthfee, Nisreen, and Zaki were “purely criminal” because their publication was not officially registered, and that the four were convicted of inciting people “to violence … against a lawfully elected government.”
Luthfee told CPJ that the case against them was politically motivated, and that it was intended as a warning to others who criticize the government. Since Maldivian authorities fully control the media, Luthfee says it is impossible to write anything critical about the government in the official press. Therefore, Didi, Luthfee, and Zaki decided to launch their independent publication online from Malaysia, where Zaki immigrated to from Mali in 1990. Because they were concerned about government surveillance inside the Maldives, Didi and Luftee sent the text of Sandhaanu to Zaki in Malaysia in PDF files to upload and distribute from there.
On May 19, 2003, Luthfee escaped from custody while receiving medical treatment in Sri Lanka and has since received asylum outside the region. In the wake of prison riots in September 2003, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pledged to reform his county’s prison system. In mid-December 2003, Zaki and Didi’s prison sentences were reduced to 15 years, and Nisreen’s sentence was halved to five years. She was released from prison but banished to Feeali Island, south of Male, on December 13, 2003.
All three were on medical leave from prison in Malé when police and the National Security Service (NSS) rearrested them in an August 2004 crackdown on pro-democracy reformists.
On the evening of August 12, in a rare protest, several thousand people gathered outside police headquarters in Male demanding democratic reforms and the release of political prisoners. That night, protesters went to the homes of Didi, Nisreen, and Zaki and attempted to escort them to the demonstration to address the crowd. Didi and Nisreen attended, but Zaki was too ill to go, according to CPJ sources.
The government declared a state of emergency the following day, August 13, and police arrested as many as 200 people, according to international news reports.
Military personnel arrested Didi on the afternoon of August 13 and took him to Girifushi, an island with a military training center, even though he was suffering from shortness of breath and in need of medical care for a heart condition. Prison officials abused Didi, keeping him blindfolded and handcuffed. He was transferred to Doonhidoo Prison, where he was kept in solitary confinement. In October, he was brought to the emergency room in the government hospital in Male for a deteriorating heart condition. Didi, who has been unable to get the bypass surgery he needs, was placed under house arrest in Male for a temporary medical leave. He remained there at year’s end.
A group of NSS forces detained Nisreen on August 13 as well, taking her to Maafushi Prison, known for its harsh conditions. She was transferred to Doonhidoo Prison on August 21 and was placed under house arrest on October 24. Suffering back pain due to her detention, Nisreen was under temporary house arrest in late December when a massive tsunami struck the Maldives. The remaining term of her sentence of banishment to Feeali Island, which was flooded in the tsunami, was postponed.
Zaki was arrested on August 16 and taken to Maafushi Prison, according to local sources. Zaki suffers from ill health, with back and kidney problems. Due to back injuries exacerbated by harsh prison conditions, he was put under house arrest on October 6, where he remained at year’s end.
Anas Tadili, Akhbar Al Ousboue
Imprisoned: April 15, 2004
Tadili, editor of the weekly Akhbar al-Ousboue (News of the Week), was sentenced to one year in prison in late September after being convicted of defaming Economics Minister Fathallah Oualalou. The charges stemmed from an article Tadili published in April 2004 alleging that Oualalou is homosexual. Tadili was already in prison at the time of the sentence serving a six-month term that began on April 15 for a prior currency violation that had been mysteriously revived. According to his lawyer, several other defamation charges have been filed against Tadili.
Bhai Kaji Ghimire, Samadristi
Imprisoned: December 3, 2003
Ghimire, managing director of the monthly Samadristi, was detained while on his way to work in the Chhetrapati area of Kathmandu. Witnesses told Amnesty International that security forces took Ghimire away in a car. His whereabouts are unknown. Ghimire’s mother has received information that he may be detained in Maharajgunj army barracks in Kathmandu, according to the Informal Sector Service Center, a local human rights center.
After the 2003 breakdown of a cease-fire with Maoist rebels, security forces targeted and detained many journalists. While most were released, Ghimire was still being held at the end of 2004. No known charges have been filed against Ghimire, and efforts by human rights organizations to locate him have been unsuccessful.
Maheshwar Pahari, Rastriya Swabhiman
Imprisoned: January 2, 2004
Pahari, a contributor to the local weekly Rastriya Swabhiman (National Pride), was detained in the village of Khorako Mukh, Kaski District, in western Nepal. While no group has taken responsibility for detaining Pahari, local sources believe that he was arrested by government security forces, which are locked in an armed struggle against rural Maoist insurgents.
It was unclear where Pahari was being held, and his relatives reported to the Red Cross and the Nepalese National Human Rights Commission that he “disappeared,” according to Amnesty International. The Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a local human rights organization, told CPJ that Pahari was transferred to a jail in Kaski on May 14.
Pahari may be detained under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance, according to INSEC. The law allows security forces to hold people in preventive detention for renewable six-month periods without formal charge or trial.
He was previously arrested in November 2001 and detained for 13 months on suspicion of being a Maoist sympathizer, according to Amnesty International. However, local journalists believe that his latest detention may be linked to his journalistic work and told CPJ that Pahari is not involved in the armed struggle.
Rastriya Swabhiman stopped publishing in August 2003 after a cease-fire between the government and the Maoists was broken, but journalists from the paper continue to publish online and often report on human rights abuses by government security forces, according to local sources. One source told CPJ that Pahari was traveling into a Maoist-controlled area to report on rebel activity there, and that news of his trip had been posted on a pro-Maoist news Web site.
Pahari maintained close contacts with sources in the Maoist movement, and some sources told CPJ that security forces may have detained him to gather intelligence about the rebel leadership, which went underground after the cease-fire broke. The Maoists, who model their movement on Peru’s Shining Path, have been fighting since 1996 to topple Nepal’s constitutional monarchy.
Shakti Kumar Pun, Rajdhani
Imprisoned: December 12, 2004
Pun, sometimes referred to as Shaktiram Pun, a correspondent for the Nepalese-language daily Rajdhani, was abducted by Maoist rebels between November 16 and 20 in the midwestern district of Rukum, according to local journalists and the human rights group Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC). Pun was abducted along with six others following the arrests of five Maoist cadres in the district, which is a rebel stronghold. Local journalists told CPJ that Pun may have been targeted for abduction because of his writing about Maoist activities and local resentment toward the rebels.
In early December, local members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists met with Maoist cadres to appeal for Pun’s release.
On December 12, the Royal Nepalese Army rescued Pun from Maoist captivity but continued to hold him in custody, according to INSEC. An army spokesman said that Pun would be released after questioning, but Pun remained in detention at year’s end.
Journalists reporting on the conflict between Maoist rebels and security forces in the western, rural districts of Nepal are especially vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, and attack from both sides.
Sita Ram Parajuli, Shram
Imprisoned: December 28, 2004
Parajuli, an editor of Kathmandu-based Shram, a weekly publication that reports on trade union activities, was taken from his home in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, at 6:30 p.m., according to several local sources. No group took responsibility for Parajuli’s disappearance, but his family and colleagues told local journalists and human rights organizations that plainclothes security forces blindfolded Parajuli and took him away in a car.
Parajuli was released on January 9, 2005, after security forces interrogated him for nearly two weeks about Maoist sources, according to local news reports. He is included on this list because he was in prison as of December 31, 2004.
SIERRA LEONE: 1
Paul Kamara, For Di People
Imprisoned: October 5, 2004
Kamara, editor of the popular daily For Di People, was sentenced to two years in prison in connection with October 2003 articles that criticized President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. The court convicted Kamara of two counts of “seditious libel” under the 1965 Public Order Act. The journalist was taken into custody and transferred to the Pademba Road Prison in the capital, Freetown. Kamara’s lawyer, J.O.D. Cole, has appealed the verdict.
The case stemmed from articles that detailed a 1967 Commission of Inquiry into fraud allegations at the Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board at a time when Kabbah helped oversee the board. For Di People also reprinted the commission’s report in installments. For Di People stopped publishing for several weeks after the verdict.
Kamara has been targeted with criminal libel in the past. He served four months of a six-month prison sentence after being convicted of criminal libel in November 2002 for defaming a local judge. On October 9, 2003, a court ordered him to pay 61 million leones (US$24,900) in damages and costs following a civil suit in the same case. When he failed to pay, police seized newspaper equipment and some of Kamara’s personal assets.
Hussein al-Kholaji, Alwan
Imprisoned: November 22, 2004
Sudanese authorities detained al-Khojali, editor of the daily Alwan, which is close to the opposition Popular Congress Party of Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, less than two months after he was released from detention in September.
Local journalists said al-Khojali was originally detained in September along with several other members of the Popular Congress Party after authorities alleged that the party had engineered an attempted coup. Sudanese journalists said that al-Khojali was detained because he wrote an article disputing the Sudanese government’s version of the alleged coup plot.
Local journalists also told CPJ that Sudanese authorities detained al-Khojali again in November after he continued to write articles that criticized the government. It is not known where al-Khojali is being held.
Hamadi Jebali, Al-Fajr
Imprisoned: January 1991
On August 28, 1992, a military court sentenced Jebali, editor of Al-Fajr, the now defunct weekly newspaper of the banned Islamic Al-Nahda party, to 16 years in prison. He was tried along with 279 others accused of belonging to Al-Nahda. Jebali was convicted of “aggression with the intention of changing the nature of the state” and “membership in an illegal organization.”
During his testimony, Jebali denied the charges and presented evidence that he had been tortured while in custody. Jebali has been imprisoned since January 1991, when he was sentenced to one year in jail after Al-Fajr published an article calling for the abolition of military courts in Tunisia. International human rights groups monitoring the mass trial concluded that the proceedings fell far below international standards of justice.
Memik Horuz, Ozgur Gelecek, Isci Koylu
Imprisoned: June 18, 2001
Horuz, editor of the leftist publications Ozgur Gelecek and Isci Koylu, was arrested and later charged with “membership in an illegal organization,” a crime under Article 168/2 of the Penal Code. Prosecutors based the case against Horuz on interviews he had allegedly conducted with leftist guerrillas in Topcam, which Ozgur Gelecek later published in 2000 and 2001.
The state also based its case on the testimony of an alleged former militant who claimed that the journalist belonged to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. Horuz was convicted on June 18, 2002, and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
UNITED STATES: 1
Jim Taricani, WJAR-TV
Imprisoned: December 9, 2004
Taricani, a television reporter in Providence, R.I., was sentenced to six months of home confinement for refusing to reveal who leaked him a Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance tape. A federal judge ordered Taricani, who has a heart condition, not to leave his home for any reason except medical treatment. The judge also barred him from using the Internet and from making any public statements.
Taricani was served with a federal subpoena in Providence after WJAR-TV, an NBC-owned affiliate, broadcast a portion of the surveillance tape in 2001 showing a municipal official, Frank E. Corrente, accepting a bribe from an FBI undercover agent. The tape was sealed under court order at the time. Corrente and Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr., the long-serving Providence mayor, were later convicted of corruption.
Ernest C. Torres, the chief U.S. District judge in Providence, held Taricani in criminal contempt of court on November 18. Soon after, a defense attorney in the probe, Joseph Bevilacqua, admitted in court that he was the source of the leaked tape. Bevilacqua represented another municipal official, Joseph Pannone, who was later convicted of corruption. Despite the disclosure, Torres sentenced Taricani to home confinement for having previously refused to name Bevilacqua as his source.
Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999
Bekjanov, editor of Erk, a newspaper published by the banned opposition party Erk, and Ruzimuradov, an employee of the paper, were sentenced to 14 years and 15 years in prison, respectively, at an August 1999 trial in the capital, Tashkent.
They were convicted for publishing and distributing a banned newspaper containing slanderous criticism of President Islam Karimov; participating in a banned political protest; and attempting to overthrow the regime. In addition, the court found them guilty of illegally leaving the country and damaging their Uzbek passports.
Both men were tortured during their six-month pretrial detention in the Tashkent City Prison, according to CPJ sources. Their health has deteriorated as a result of prison conditions.
According to human rights activists in Tashkent, on November 27, 1999, Bekjanov was transferred to “strict-regime” Penal Colony 64/46 in the city of Navoi in central Uzbekistan. He has lost considerable weight and, like many prisoners in Uzbek camps, suffers from malnutrition. Local sources told CPJ that Ruzimuradov was being held in “strict-regime” Penal Colony 64/33 in the village of Shakhali near the town of Karshi.
In May 2003, the 49-year-old Bekjanov was interviewed for the first time since his imprisonment by a local correspondent for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and a local stringer for The Associated Press (AP). The interview took place in the Tashkent Prison Hospital, where he was being treated for tuberculosis, which he contracted while in detention.
Bekjanov described daily torture and beatings that resulted in a broken leg and loss of hearing in his right ear, according to IWPR. The journalist and opposition activist said he intends to resume his political activities after he is released from prison in 2012. “I will do what I used to do,” Bekjanov told the AP.
Gayrat Mehliboyev, freelance
Imprisoned: July 24, 2002
Mehliboyev was arrested at a bazaar in the capital, Tashkent, for allegedly participating in an antigovernment rally protesting the imprisonment of members of the banned Islamist opposition party Hizb ut-Tahrir. When police searched Mehliboyev’s bed in a local hostel, they allegedly found banned religious literature that prosecutors later characterized as extremist in nature, according to international press reports.
Mehliboyev, who was unemployed at the time, admitted in court that he had studied the ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir but denied possessing the religious material police allegedly found in the hostel where he was staying.
He had written several articles on religious issues for the government-funded Tashkent newspapers Hurriyat and Mohiyyat during 2001 and graduated from the journalism faculty at Tashkent State University in 2002, according to local press reports.
Mehliboyev was held in pretrial detention for more than six months before his trial began on February 5, 2003. Prosecutors presented as evidence of Mehliboyev’s alleged religious extremism a political commentary he had written for the April 11, 2001, edition of Hurriyat. The article questioned whether Western democracy should be a model for Uzbekistan and said that religion was the true path to achieving social justice. Prosecutors claimed that the article contained ideas from Hizb ut-Tahrir.
A Tashkent-based representative of Human Rights Watch monitored the trial and told CPJ that several times during the proceedings, Mehliboyev said he was beaten in custody, but the court ignored his comments.
Mehliboyev’s brother, Shavkat, said the defendant was forced to confess to having connections to Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The Shaikhantaur Regional Court sentenced the 23-year-old Mehliboyev to seven years in prison on February 18, 2003, after convicting him of anticonstitutional activities, participating in extremist religious organizations, and inciting religious hatred, according to local and international press reports.
Ortikali Namazov, Pop Tongi and Kishlok Khayoti
Imprisoned: August 11, 2004
Namazov, editor of the state newspaper Pop Tongi (Dawn of the Pop District) and correspondent for the state newspaper Kishlok Khayoti (Agricultural Life), was imprisoned while standing trial on embezzlement charges. He was later convicted of the charges–which local sources say were politically motivated–and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison.
The 53-year-old journalist was charged with embezzling 14 million som (US$13,500) from Pop Tongi. The charges were filed after he wrote a series of articles about alleged abuses in local tax inspections and collective-farm management.
Namazov denied embezzling the money and said the charges were fabricated. After his trial began on August 4, Namazov complained that the judge was biased and was not allowing him to speak in his defense. Authorities took him into custody on August 11, before a verdict was reached.
The Turakurgan District Criminal Court convicted Namazov on August 16, a verdict condemned by local journalists and press freedom activists.
Mutabar Tadjibaeva, a local human rights activist who monitored the trial, told CPJ that local authorities harassed the journalist’s family during the August trial, cutting his home telephone line and firing his daughter from her job as a school doctor.
Nguyen Khac Toan, freelance
Imprisoned: January 8, 2002
Toan was arrested at an Internet café in the capital, Hanoi. He had reported on protests by disgruntled farmers and then transmitted his reports via the Internet to overseas pro-democracy groups. Authorities later charged him with espionage. On December 20, 2002, Toan was sentenced to 12 years in prison, one of the harshest sentences given to a Vietnamese democracy activist in recent years.
Toan served in the North Vietnamese army in the 1970s. After becoming active in Vietnam’s pro-democracy movement, he began to write articles using the pen name Veteran Tran Minh Tam.
During the National Assembly’s December 2001 and January 2002 meeting, large numbers of peasants gathered in front of the meeting hall to demand compensation for land that the government had confiscated from them during recent redevelopment efforts. Toan helped the protesters write their grievances to present to government officials. He also wrote several news reports about the demonstrations and sent the articles to overseas pro-democracy publications.
Toan’s trial took less than one day, and his lawyer was not allowed to meet with him alone until the day before proceedings began. The day after Toan was sentenced, the official Vietnamese press carried reports stating that he had “slandered and denigrated executives of the party and the state by sending electronic letters and by providing information to certain exiled Vietnamese reactionaries in France.” He is currently being held in B14 Prison, in Thanh Tri District, outside Hanoi.
Pham Hong Son, freelance
Imprisoned: March 27, 2002
Son, a medical doctor, was arrested after he posted an essay online about democracy. Authorities also searched his home and confiscated his computer and several documents, according to the Democracy Club for Vietnam, an organization based in both California and Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital.
Prior to his arrest, Son translated into Vietnamese and posted online an essay titled “What Is Democracy?” (The article first appeared on the U.S. State Department’s Web site.) Son had previously written several essays promoting democracy and human rights, all of which appeared on Vietnamese-language online forums.
After Son’s arrest, the government issued a statement claiming that his work was “antistate,” according to international press reports.
On June 18, 2003, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Son to 13 years in prison, plus an additional three years of administrative detention, or house arrest. The trial was closed to foreign diplomats and correspondents. Son’s wife, Vu Thuy Ha, was also barred from the courtroom, except when she was called to testify. On appeal in 2003, the Hanoi Supreme Court reduced Son’s prison sentence to five years.
After visiting her husband in August 2004, Son’s wife told Radio Free Asia that he was in very poor health and in need of medical attention. In September, she received notice that he had been transferred to a prison in remote Thanh Hoa Province, making visits more difficult.
Nguyen Vu Binh, freelance
Imprisoned: September 25, 2002
Security officials searched Binh’s home in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, before arresting him, said CPJ sources. Police did not disclose the reasons for the writer’s arrest, although CPJ sources believe that his detention may be linked to an essay he wrote criticizing border agreements between China and Vietnam.
In a trial on December 31, 2003, the Hanoi People’s Court sentenced Binh on espionage charges to seven years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest upon release. Binh’s wife was the only family member allowed in the courtroom. Foreign diplomats and journalists were barred from the trial.
Following the proceedings, the official Vietnam News Agency reported that Binh was sentenced because he had “written and exchanged, with various opportunist elements in the country, information and materials that distorted the party and state policies.” He was also accused of communicating with “reactionary” organizations abroad.
Binh is a former journalist who worked for almost 10 years at Tap Chi Cong San (Journal of Communism), an official publication of Vietnam’s Communist Party. In January 2001, he left his position there after applying to form an independent opposition group called the Liberal Democratic Party.
Since then, Binh has written several articles calling for political reform and criticizing government policy. In August 2002, he wrote an article titled, “Some Thoughts on the China-Vietnam Border Agreement,” which was distributed online.
In late July 2002, Binh was briefly detained after submitting written testimony to a U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus briefing on freedom of expression in Vietnam. Authorities then required him to report to the local police station daily. He was also subjected to frequent, daylong interrogation sessions.
In 2002, Vietnamese authorities cracked down on critics of land and sea border agreements signed by China and Vietnam as part of a rapprochement following a 1979 war between the two countries. Several writers have criticized the government for agreeing to border concessions without consulting the Vietnamese people.
Nguyen Dan Que, freelance
Imprisoned: March 17, 2003
Que, a writer and publisher of the underground newspaper The Future, was arrested outside his home in Ho Chi Minh City. Police also confiscated several documents and a computer from his house.
On March 21, 2003, the official Vietnam News Agency reported that Que was accused of violating the law by “sending materials with anti-Socialist Republic of Vietnam contents to an organization named ‘Cao Trao Nhan Ban’ headquartered in the U.S.” Que launched Cao Trao Nhan Ban (High Tide of Humanism) in 1990 in Ho Chi Minh City to promote nonviolent human rights activism in Vietnam. Que’s brother, Nguyen Quoc Quan, runs a branch office of the organization in Virginia.
On March 13, 2003, Que had issued a statement, titled “Communiqué on Freedom of Information in Vietnam,” in which he criticized the government’s refusal to implement political reforms and lift controls on the media. Que’s statement also supported the Freedom of Information in Vietnam Act of 2003, which was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives on February 27, 2003. The bill would support enhanced broadcasts from the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia into Vietnam and would allow the United States to counter Vietnamese government blocks on Internet access.
Que, an endocrinologist and prominent writer, has spent a total of 18 years in prison for his political activism since his first arrest in 1978.
On July 29, 2004, Ho Chi Minh People’s Court sentenced Que to 30 months in prison on charges of “taking advantage of democratic rights to infringe upon the interests of the state.” In September, Que was transferred to Ward 5 Prison, a hard-labor camp for criminals in remote Thanh Hoa Province.
Abdel Karim al-Khaiwani, Al-Shoura
Imprisoned: September 5, 2004
Al-Khaiwani, editor of the opposition weekly Al-Shoura (The Consultation), began serving a one-year prison sentence. He was convicted of incitement, insulting the president, publishing false news, and causing tribal and sectarian discrimination. Al-Khaiwani’s lawyer, Jamal al-Jaabi, told CPJ that al-Khaiwani was charged under both Yemen’s Press Law and Penal Code. The court also suspended Al-Shoura for six months.
Al-Jaabi said the charges against al-Khaiwani stemmed from nine opinion pieces published in the July 7 issue of the weekly, which was dedicated to discussing the Yemeni government’s fight against rebel cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Hawthi, who led a three-month uprising against authorities in the northern Yemeni region of Saada. Hundreds were reportedly killed during the uprising, and government forces killed al-Hawthi on September 10.
The articles, which other newspaper staff had written, were extremely critical of the government’s conduct and questioned its motives in engaging in an armed conflict against al-Hawthi and his supporters. One of the pieces claimed that the government was creating terrorism with their actions, while another alleged that innocent people were being killed in the fighting.