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Chinese wordsmith tossed in the pokey

After spending the ’90s in prison for his outcry against China’s curb-stompage of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, Internet journalist Yang Tianshui has been thrown in jail for his predilection for free speech.

He got 12 years for subversion, according to an Associated Press story in the Globe and Mail; Tianshui was slapped with this sentence after a mere half-day trial which featured “secret” evidence. His lawyer Li Jianqiang says that prosecutors accused Tianshui of acting with “hostile overseas forces” — i.e. communicating with overseas human rights groups or writing for foreign websites — and that he and Tianshui expected this verdict.

Tianshui denied the subversion charge, but made no statement at his trial and doesn’t plan on making an appeal. It would probably fall on deaf ears, anyway — the Associated Press story reports that “China’s communist government under President Hu Jintao has aggressively moved against writers and others who broadcast their views to a larger audience. Hundreds of small publications have been shut down, while regulations on website content have been tightened. China is believed to be the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with at least 42 behind bars, many on security or subversion charges.”

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Read the Globe and Mail article here