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One Chinese journalist sentenced to four years' imprisonment; another released after 13 months in prison

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned a June 26 decision by a Nanjing court sentencing Chinese journalist Sun Lin to four years' imprisonment for "disturbing the social order" and "concealing a weapon". Sun, who writes for US-based website Boxun News under the pen name Jie Mu, and his wife He Fang were arrested on May 30, 2007, after reporting on civil rights violations in Nanjing and other regions of China.

In March 2007, Sun was visited by police after reporting about a driver beaten up by city uniformed officers and a land dispute in Nanjing. He was warned then to stop reporting.

Sun, a veteran journalist who has worked for newspapers including Nanjing's Business Today, was originally charged with four charges, none relating to his reporting. The charges were later reduced to two, namely "concealing a weapon" and "disturbing the social order". Sun's wife was charged with "disturbing the social order".

Sun's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said the charges were related to a land dispute in 2004 and that there was no "social disorder". Mo also told IFJ that no weapon was found with Sun, and that the trial did not accord his client due process.

Sun allegedly has been beaten in detention. The couple's baby daughter is in the care of Sun's elderly mother.

Sun's sentence comes after his wife received a suspended jail sentence on June 26 in a closed-door hearing. IFJ has learnt that He Fang has returned home but refuses to discuss the case.

"The sentencing of Sun Lin is another shameful example of China's use of repressive laws to jail journalists," IFJ Asia-Pacific said. "As the Olympic Games approach, far from freeing the media as promised, the authorities are accelerating their clampdown on a free media."

Date posted: July 2, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 345