Ling Jihua, an aide to former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao and director of the Party’s secretive General Office, was sentenced to life in prison, according to state run media.
On July 4, Xinhua News Agency reported that Ling was found guilty by the Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on June 7 of taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets, and abuse of power. State mouthpiece China Central Television ran footage of a grey-haired Ling in a white shirt in the courtroom.
Ling and his family had accepted bribes totaling 77.08 million yuan (about $11.6 million), Xinhua reported. He had also obtained large amounts of classified documents while serving as head of the United Front Work Department, the regime’s political subterfuge and espionage organ, and vice chair of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body.
Huo Ke, Ling’s former aide at the General Office, had furnished his ex-boss with the classified documents, according to Xinhua.
Given Ling’s highest official position was analogous to the White House chief of staff, he is one of the most elite Party cadres to be jailed in recent decades.
Ling pled guilty and said he would not appeal the sentence.
Ling’s downfall can be traced to the suspicious death of his son in a Ferrari accident in Beijing in March 2012. He was investigated for corruption in December 2014, and formally arrested on July 20, 2015.
Party leader Xi Jinping had in a recent speech accused Ling, former security czar Zhou Yongkang, former military vice chair Xu Caihou, and former Politburo member Bo Xilai of having “carried out political conspiracies to wreck and split the Party.”
Zhou, Xu, and Bo are known allies of former Party chief Jiang Zemin. Since taking office, Xi has been dismantling Jiang’s political network and consolidating his own power.