Chinese journalist files appeal over jail term

BEIJING • A 71-year-old Chinese journalist yesterday appealed against her seven-year jail sentence for "leaking state secrets", a conviction condemned by free speech advocates worldwide.

Dozens of police officers blocked access to the Beijing High Court, where Gao Yu appeared for an hour-long hearing. The session was closed to outsiders, said Gao's lawyer, Mr Mo Shaoping. He added that he did not expect the guilty verdict to be overturned.

Gao has suffered from heart problems during her detention but seemed "reasonably healthy", Mr Mo said.

Named one of the International Press Institute's 50 "world press heroes" in 2000, Gao has been a consistent critic of the ruling Communist Party's authoritarian policies.

A court ruled in April that Gao leaked a 2013 directive by the Communist Party, named "Document No. 9", to a Hong Kong media outlet.

The document warned of the "dangers" of multiparty democracy, independent media, "universal" definitions of human rights and criticism of the party's historical record, according to copies widely circulated online.

The court hearing comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping oversees a crackdown on dissent, which has seen hundreds of lawyers, activists and academics detained in recent years. Dozens have also been jailed.

China has tight controls on the media, and these have been further tightened, reporters said.

France-based Reporters Without Borders ranked China 176th out of 180 countries in its 2015 Press Freedom Index.

State security forces yesterday prevented journalists and about a dozen foreign diplomats from standing near the court, saying it was "not appropriate".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Chinese journalist files appeal over jail term'. Print Edition | Subscribe