China Jails Journalist Who Reported on Corruption
BEIJING — A Chinese court has upheld the eight-year sentence of an investigative journalist in Shandong Province who had already completed a four-year term on charges of “extortion and blackmail” — charges that his lawyers say were concocted to silence him.
The journalist, Qi Chonghuai, 46, was two weeks away from release last month when the same court that convicted him in 2008 retried him on the same charges. Human rights advocates have described the entire legal process as flawed and say the second conviction is a blatant violation of Chinese law.
Mr. Qi was originally detained after he wrote a series of articles in the state-run media detailing corruption among local party officials in the city of Tengzhou. The articles included an expose into the construction of a lavish government building and the beating of a female employee who was late for work.
Less than two weeks after the articles were published, Mr. Qi was detained by the police and, according to relatives, subjected to 11 months of physical and psychological abuse by members of the Tengzhou Public Security Bureau. They said his time in prison was marked by repeated torture, beatings by other inmates and hard labor in a prison coalmine.
According to the organization Human Rights in China, the authorities decided to prolong Mr. Qi’s detention after he told the Tengzhou mayor and other top officials he planned to continue his anticorruption work after his release.
On Friday another rights group, Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, filed an urgent appeal on Mr. Qi’s behalf with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.