16 March 2009
Cyber-dissidents Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai released after eight years in prison
(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders hails the release of cyber-dissident Yang Zili, the founder of the "Garden of Ideas" website http://www.lib.126.com
. He was released from Beijing No. 2 prison on 12 March 2009 on completing an eight-year sentence on a charge of subverting the state.
"It was symbolic that Yang was freed on Online Free Expression Day and we are very pleased for him," Reporters Without Borders said. "However China continues to be an enemy of the Internet and one of the world's biggest prisons for government critics, whether journalists or ordinary Internet users. We call for an investigation into the treatment he received while in detention."
Yang Zili was a member of a clandestine discussion group called the "New Youth Society" which met once a week to discuss political reform. Another member of the group, Zhang Honghai, was also freed on 12 March upon completing an eight-year sentence. Two other members of the group who were given 10-year sentences, Jin Haike and Xu Wei, are still being held.
All four were arrested in March 2001 and were convicted on the same charge in May 2003. Jin Haike is being held in Beijing No. 2 prison. Xu Wei was transferred to a prison in Yanqing after developing a mental illness while in detention.
After graduating from the prestigious University of Beijing in mechanical engineering, Yang Zili worked as a computer engineer while writing theoretical articles for his website advocating political liberalism, criticising repression of the Falungong spiritual movement and deploring the problems faced by the peasantry.
Then aged 30, Yang Zili was arrested as he was leaving his Beijing home on 13 March 2001. His wife was arrested the same day and was released 48 hours later after being forced to agree in writing not to talk about his arrest.
China is the world's biggest prison for cyber-dissidents. A total of 69 people are currently detained because of their online activity
Download the "Internet Enemies" report in PDF : http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30583
Updates the Zili and Honghai cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91115
For further information on the Haike and Wei cases, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91115