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China jails Gao Yu, despite world-wide appeals

Gao YuThe Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong said in a statement that it deplores the decision of the Chinese authorities to ignore clemency appeals from around the world and to impose a five-year prison sentence on 71-year-old journalist Gao Yu, who suffers heart trouble and other illnesses.

The Beijing High Court on November 26 upheld a guilty verdict against Gao for leaking so-called state secrets to foreign media, charges that are without foundation. Gao, who was detained in April 2014, is a journalist who has written about politics, social and economic issues for both domestic and foreign media. The magazine to which she was alleged to have leaked sensitive information has denied that she was the source.

Gao’s prosecution and sentencing are particularly insidious as the action appears intended to deter journalists working within China from reporting the facts and working with foreign media. The reduction of her jail sentence from seven years to five is of little consequence to Ms. Gao, who is in frail health and requires medication.

While we hope Gao’s condition can be managed and wish her a long life, a potential release date of April 2019 means the punishment may amount to an effective death sentence for someone so ill. The FCC urges Chinese authorities to release her from custody immediately.

The FCC proudly notes that Gao is a winner of the annual Human Rights Press Awards jointly sponsored by the FCC, Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong. She was recognised for her bravery and dedication to reporting the truth. We repeat our call for her release and vindication.

Photo by Francis Moriarty

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The Correspondent, April - June 2021