US calls for immediate release of Chinese journalist Gao Yu

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Friday urged China to free Chinese journalist Gao Yu and said her jailing was "part of a disturbing pattern" of actions against those who question Beijing's policies.

"We call on the Chinese authorities to release Ms Gao immediately and respect China's international human rights commitments," a State Department official told AFP.

Washington was very concerned that Gao, 71, had been sentenced to seven years in jail, "after a closed trial, on charges of leaking state secrets to a foreign news outlet," the official said.

"The conviction of veteran reporter Gao Yu is part of a disturbing pattern of government action against public interest lawyers, Internet activists, journalists, religious leaders and others who peacefully question official Chinese policies and actions," he added.

Gao Yu - named one of the International Press Institute's 50 "world press heroes" in 2000 - "illegally provided state secrets to foreigners," Beijing's No. 3 Intermediate People's Court said Friday, on a verified social media account.