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IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin - January 2010

(IFJ/IFEX) In this bulletin:

1. Charter 08 Founder Sentenced to 11 Years
2. First Censorship Orders in 2010 Issued
3. Mainland Media Fails to Report on Green Dam Lawsuit
4. Hong Kong Yahoo! Website Forum Closes Suddenly

1.Charter 08 Founder Sentenced to 11 Years

Founder of the Charter 08 pro-democracy movement Liu Xiaobo was sentenced on December 25 to 11 years' jail on charges of "inciting subversion of state power" and writing six articles during 2005 and 2007. Facing one of the most severe sentences since the law was initiated in 1998, Liu has been punished for his involvement in initiating and drafting the Charter 08 political reform petition, sent to China's Government to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 2008. Up to 40 journalists, consulate officials, foreign lawyers and local supporters were reportedly denied access to Liu's trial, which began on December 23. Liu's brother said Liu was denied his right to address the court to defend his case. Online messages of outrage about the sentence were also reportedly filtered. On January 3, the popular website deleted messages of support to Liu, under orders from the Central Government. An appeal application was filed by Liu's legal team on December 29, his wife, Liu Xia, said. The IFJ will join a vigil in Hong Kong on January 12 to demand Liu's immediate release.

2. First Censorship Orders in 2010 Issued

Three new restriction orders were issued by the Central Propaganda Departments in early 2010. One order banned negative reporting on any petitions and lawsuits. Another order involved restrictions on any information related to the Wuhan-Guangzhou railway, which launched a high-speed public train service on December 26. According to the Taiwan-based Chinayes news site ( ), China's media outlets were also instructed not to report on a lawsuit by the United States Judiciary Department and Security Exchange Commission against telecommunications company Utstarcom for alleged bribery.

3. Mainland Media Fails to Report on Green Dam Lawsuit

The failure by some Mainland media to report on a lawsuit initiated against China by San Francisco software company Cybersitter, even though the Central Propaganda Department did not issue a ban on reporting the case, elevates the IFJ's concerns about self-censorship in China. Cybersitter alleges that China's Green Dam filtering software program is pirated. This is the first legal battle involving the universal internet filtering software introduced by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2009. The move to implement the program in all new computers was suspended in June after international criticism, including by United States President Barack Obama.

4. Hong Kong Yahoo! Website Suddenly Closes

Hong Kong's popular Yahoo!HK website at made an online announcement that it would close its online forum page on January 26, saying the service needed upgrades. According to a report in Apple Daily, the chairman of the Internet Society's Hong Kong chapter, Charles Mok, said several forum pages of other unnamed websites had been harassed by Hong Kong government departments, including the Police Department, Customs and Excise Department and the Equal Opportunity Department. They had allegedly requested the websites' management disclose personal information about netizens posting on their sites.

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