Human rights activist sentenced to 12 years in prison

Monday, July 29, 2019

Huang Qi
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Mianyang, Sichuan—July 29, 2019) A court in China’s Sichuan province sentenced Huang Qi, the founder of the human rights website 64 Tianwang, today.

Huang was sentenced to three years on a disclosing state secrets charge and 11 years for providing state secrets to foreign forces. In addition, he received a four-year deprivation of political rights, and authorities ordered 20,000 yuan from his personal account confiscated.

However, because Huang has two charges, officials decided that he must serve 12 years in prison.

An attorney named Zhang, who served as Huang’s lawyer until he was forced to withdraw from the case, asked why such a serious sentence was given, saying that the alleged secrets Huang exposed are actually items of global public knowledge and arguing that he received the documents from others, who were not prosecuted. Huang also does not hold a government position, meaning he has no access to state secrets.

Huang’s mother, Pu Wenqing, did not receive an official notice from the court regarding her son’s punishment and found out via volunteers at his website instead. She is concerned about his health, since he suffers from multiple diseases, and she fears he may be depressed.

Pu is a member of Early Rain Covenant Church, a Sichuan-based church that has been under much persecution.

Ms. Wei, a woman who has been following Huang’s case, said, “The verdict is definitely unreasonable … Huang hasn’t violated the laws, so he is innocent. Therefore, their verdict against him doesn’t make sense, and his family was not notified. If the trial and verdict of [Huang] were just and fair—if he were guilty—why wouldn’t the foreign media have been allowed to sit in the hearing?”

Police took Huang from his home in Chengdu, Sichuan, on Nov. 28, 2016, and placed him under criminal detention. On Dec. 16, authorities arrested him on the “providing state secrets to foreign forces” charge. In October 2018, the Mianyang Municipal Court added the other charge, and he first stood trial on Jan. 14, 2019. In the courtroom, Huang fired his lawyer, an action Chinese prisoners sometimes undertake after being pressured by authorities to do so. During his time in police custody, Huang has been tortured more than 20 times as officials attempt to extract a confession from him.

64 Tianwang, which takes its name from the date of the Tiananmen Square Massacre—June 4, 1989—and “wang,” the first character in the Chinese word for internet, is a website dedicated to protecting human rights and has drawn the authorities’ attention to Huang. In May 2003, Huang was sentenced to five years in prison on an inciting subversion of state power charge. He was released on June 4, 2005, upon the sentence’s completion.

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