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Beijing court throws out appeal by jailed cyber-dissident Wang Lihong

(RSF/IFEX) - 21 October 2011 - Reporters Without Borders deplores the rejection on 20 October by a Beijing court of the appeal by cyber-dissident Wang Lihong against a nine-month prison sentence imposed on 12 August for disturbing public order by organising a demonstration in Fuzhou in support of three bloggers convicted of defamation.

Wang Lihong was arrested in March and held for five months before appearing in court on 12 August. One of her lawyers, Han Yicun, said the trial was unfair because the judge had been obstructive, interrupting the defence and the defendant several times.

The artist Ai Weiwei expressed his support for the blogger in a Tweet in August (in Chinese and in English). A blog supporting her and a petition on Twitter are also available.

Wang's trial is a worrying signal from the Chinese government, which is stepping up its control of the Internet and in particular micro-blogging sites such as Sina Weibo (which has reached a total of 200 million users).

The Chinese authorities are worried by the ability of cyber-dissidents to move from virtual activism to activism in the real world, by organising demonstrations using social networking sites as in the case of Wang.

Since the beginning of the year, cyber-attacks on media organizations, the institutionalization of Internet censorship and arrests of netizens have been ongoing.

China is on Reporters Without Borders' list of Internet Enemies and is 171st out of 178 countries in the press freedom index for 2010.

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