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Authorities postpone trial of cyber-dissident Huang Qi charged with "illegal possession of state secrets" in attempt to "silence him at all costs", says RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders deplores the way the authorities are handling the case against Huang Qi, a cyber-dissident who has been held in Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan province) since 10 June 2008 on a charge of "illegal possession of state secrets." His family and lawyers were told on 2 February 2009 that the trial would start the next day, but the hearing was postponed and a new date has not been announced.

"Huang is yet again the victim of the judicial system's lack of independence and is reliving the nightmare he already experienced after he was arrested for the first time in 2000," Reporters Without Borders said. "The authorities have no evidence of his guilt but are trying at all costs to silence him. We condemn this persecution and reiterate our call for his release."

Ding Xikui, the assistant of Huang's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, was able to see Huang in Chengdu prison on 4 February. "He is in good health, mentally and physically," Ding told Reporters Without Borders. "The prison authorities did not try to disturb us and I was able to talk to him for more than an hour."

The police passed Huang's case file to the Sichuan prosecutor's office in mid-January. Under Chinese law, the prosecutor's office has a month and a half to set a day for the start of the trial, which it must do by notifying the defendant's family and lawyer at least three days in advance. As the authorities only gave one day's notice to Huang's family and lawyers, they were legally obliged to postpone it.

Huang had himself been told from the outset that his trial would start on 3 February. Arrested for posting articles about May 2008 Sichuan earthquake on his website, Huang was formally charged with "illegal possession of state secrets" on 18 July 2008. Until 4 February 2009, all of his lawyer's requests to see him had been refused since 18 September 2008.

Huang originally created his website, Tianwang
( http://tinyurl.com/dmo6or ) as a bulletin board for messages about missing persons. He was first arrested in June 2000, on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, for posting articles on his website that he had obtained from dissident organisations based abroad.

He was finally sentenced on 9 May 2003 to five years in prison on a charge of "trying to overthrow state authority" under articles 103 and 105 of the criminal code. His wife, who had not seen him since his arrest, was not notified about the hearing in which the verdict and sentence were announced.

Updates the Huang Qi case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95575

For further information on the past persecution of Huang Qi, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/79346
http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/61779

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