On the morning of June 15, 2006, Longhui County Court of Hunan Province sentenced Yang Xiaoqing, a reporter for China Industrial Economy News, to one year in prison. Mr. Yang immediately filed for an appeal.
Mr. Yang had been held in custody since January 2006 for exposing the corruption of local officials. He was subsequently accused of involvement in blackmail by the Chinese Communist Party, with a court hearing set for May 16, 2006.
Mr. Yang's wife, Gong Jie, explained during an interview with The Epoch Times that they are not protesting to shorten the prison term. “Even if Mr. Yang were sentenced to only one day in prison, it would mean that he was found guilty. Hence, our main concern is to ask for a fair trial to restore his reputation. Mr. Yang is an innocent and honest reporter who is being retaliated against for exposing the corruption of Longhui County officials of Hunan Province. We are determined to file an appeal to the higher court. And if that doesn't work, we will continue on to the Central court.”
Mr. Yang's defense attorney, Mr. Zhang Xingshui, expressed his disappointment in the outcome of the trial. He believes that the government's accusation of Mr. Yang's involvement in blackmail is fabricated. The little evidence the prosecutor provided lacked objectivity, authenticity or connection to the case. Moreover, the pieces of evidence failed to present a logical description of the crime. According to the law, the claims made by the prosecutor are invalid.
Gong Jie stated that during the court opening on May 16, hundreds of Longhui County residents attended the trial to support Yang Xiaoqing. The residents returned during the day of sentencing to show support again. The protesters blocked the police car that was taking Yang Xiaoqing away and posted posters protesting the unfairness of the sentence. Yang Xiaoqing's mother and sister also came from afar for the tearful protest.
Longhui County residents sent in a petition containing twenty pages of signatures and fingerprints on May 21 stating that, “We felt very indignant regarding the unjust sentence of reporter Yang Xiaoqing.”
Attorney Zhang Xingshui pointed out that Yang Xiaoqing has always stood up in defense of minorities and those who were treated unfairly, being a person who exposes corruption with a strong sense of justice and sympathy. Mr. Zhang believes this case is targeted at the content of Yang's reports, and is worthy of society's attention and sympathy. The sight of the emotional support groups outside the courtroom showed that the public protests could not be slighted.
Gong Jie was an editor at a children's newspaper in Changsha City, Hunan Province. Since her husband's arrest, she has traveled around the country to raise awareness of his unjust sentence and has been unable to continue her work as an editor. She said that the arrest of Yang Xiaoqing was a shock to the family, and the fees for the trials put the family into great debt. She, however, will persevere to free her husband, no matter what.
Yang Xiaoqing's Donation Account
Agricultural Bank of China account: 95599 8109 09064 77914
Account holder: Gong Jie