Dissident Journalist Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

July 14, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: July 14, 2006 12:00 am

On the morning of July 13, Bijie City's Intermediate Court in Guizhou Province sentenced Li Yuanlong, the former reporter of the Bijie Daily, to two years in prison. Li Yuanlong refused to sign the sentence in court and indicated that he would appeal.

Li Yuanlong's Wife Thanks Supporters

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Li Yuanlong's wife, Yang Xiumin, indicated that she and several friends went to the court hearing. Yang said, “I think my husband's sentence is extremely unjust, and I refuse to accept it. We all hope to appeal as soon as possible. My husband is innocent, as are his thoughts, his article, and everything he has done!”

According to Yang Xiumin, the sentence for her husband's case was delayed two months after the hearing on May 11. Yang had urged the court many times to deliver the final decision, but the judge always indicated that there was nothing they could do because they had to wait for instructions from higher authorities.

Yang said, “This case is far from fair. The judge even told me that they have no control or solutions because they have to listen to orders from their superiors. Neither do I blame them.”

Yang's largest concern is her husband's health. She explained, “He normally uses his limited income to help less fortunate people, and he himself lives a very simple life. Due to long-term malnutrition, he is very thin, feeble and suffers from many diseases. When I saw him in the court, he was even thinner and in very poor health. I only had the opportunity to say a few comforting words to him.”

Yang expresses thanks to friends in China and overseas and media who are concerned for Li Yuanlong. She especially thanks attorney Li Jianqiang for his dedication. She said, “No matter the final result, I am extremely grateful to everyone for their help.”

The Sentence is Unacceptable and We Will Appeal

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Li Yuanlong's attorney Li Jianqiang said, “This sentence is completely wrong. Neither the family members nor attorneys choose to accept it”.

Attorney Li said, “From a legal perspective, even sentencing Li Yuanlong for one day is wrong because he committed no crime. This is a basic principle, so we must appeal. I have already communicated this point to Mrs. Li Yuanlong via phone.” He continued, “Although the local court is relatively reasonable compared to many other levels of the court system, the final sentence was not up to them to decide.”

Attorney Li also pointed out that, compared to other similar political cases, the sentence for this case is by far the lightest. Li said, “The reason is mainly due to support from both within China and overseas, including many organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the International Pen Club, the Independent Chinese PEN Center, and attention from overseas medias. The support from people believing in justice in China and abroad all played a very major role. ”

Li Yuanlong's Case Receives Attention

Li Yuanlong, who writes under the penname Yelang, was arrested by Guizhou Provincial Security Bureau on September 26, 2005 for publishing articles on an overseas website. His personal property was confiscated. This case has been transferred among several procurators, who were responsible for the case. It was not until February 9, 2006 that Li Yuanlong was officially accused for “instigating subversion of state power.” The court hearing was also delayed three times, and was finally held on May 11.

In early February, the International Federation of Journalist Reporters Without Boarders urged the Chinese communist regime to set Li free. The organization expressed infuriation in regards to the regime's conduct, and urged it to stop suppressing free speech on the Internet. They believe that the regime's current tightening of supervision over media demonstrates that the Chinese communist regime is anxious about the social problems that worsen day by day.

The Writers in Prison Committee of the International PEN wrote articles to protest Li Yuanlong's sentence. The association calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Li Yuanlong, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed. The association also calls for the release of other authors imprisoned only because they expressed their thoughts.