Sign up for weekly updates

RWB reveals Chinese state secrets to protest journalist's prison sentence

Anti-Beijing protesters hold pictures of jailed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu during a rally outside Chinese central government's liaison office in Hong Kong Friday, April 17, 2015 as they demand press freedom and the release of Gao
Anti-Beijing protesters hold pictures of jailed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu during a rally outside Chinese central government's liaison office in Hong Kong Friday, April 17, 2015 as they demand press freedom and the release of Gao

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

This statement was originally published on on 17 April 2015.

In response to the seven-year jail sentence that a Beijing court passed today on the journalist Gao Yu for "disclosing state secrets," Reporters Without Borders is releasing internal Chinese Communist Party documents as a form of protest and to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the government's attempts to control news and information.

By releasing these documents, Reporters Without Borders is showing that independent journalists and activists inside China will continue to send censored information abroad and will continue to expose the Communist Party's lies and propaganda.

The internal memos and directives obtained by Reporters Without Borders, which came from the State Internet Information Office and other departments, show how the authorities stepped up their control of the Internet at the end of last year.

The documents - which include censorship directives to news media, memos circulated within Internet companies that cooperate with the censors, and summaries of meetings - testify to the scale of the party's efforts to shape public opinion in accordance with its political vision.

"We are appalled by this verdict and sentence, which ignored the proof of Gao Yu's innocence supplied by her lawyers," said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

"Today, the Chinese authorities ensured that a lie prevails so we would like to remind them of a truth: for each journalist or blogger they convict and turn into a political prisoner, they create ten new defenders of freedom of information and media freedom, ten new activists who will defend the public interest by revealing what the authorities want to cover up.

Ismaïl added: "It was thanks to one of these journalists that we obtained these internal Chinese Communist Party documents."

After the sentence was announced, Gao's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said he would appeal. The authorities accused Gao of sending an internal Communist Party document that was "secret" to a foreign news organization although the document, identified as "Document No. 9," had already been posted online.

Yesterday, on the eve of the announcement of the sentence, Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to free Gao and drop all charges against her. Gao, who won the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 1997, has been held since 24 April 2014.

Extracts from the messages to Internet censors and directives to news media and various news websites are available here. Reporters Without Borders will soon post all the documents it obtained.

Download the document released by RWB.
china_state_documents_rwb.pdf (218 KB)

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Dispatches: Silencing a veteran Chinese journalist

    Like many prosecutions of government critics, Gao's case has been marred by procedural violations. She told her lawyer that she was forced to confess on national television in May 2014 out of concern for her son, who had been taken into custody and later released.

  • Chinese journalist Gao Yu sentenced to seven years

    "The sentencing of veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu to seven years in prison is yet another clear indicator that the government of President Xi Jinping is incapable of tolerating any deviation from the party line . . . Under Xi, not only will criticism of any sort be prohibited, but it will be harshly punished. Gao Yu is the latest journalist to fall victim to the party's dictate."

  • China imprisons journalist Gao Yu

    "We condemn the politically motivated charges, trial and imprisonment of Gao Yu, who was convicted for bringing to light critical information on the party’s policy about law and human rights . . . For Gao, who is 71, this could effectively be life imprisonment. Her televised confession and ludicrous sentencing are reminders that despite Xi Jinping's rhetoric about promoting the 'rule of law,' China's judges report to one authority - the Chinese Communist Party.

  • IFJ strongly condemns sentencing of veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu

    The IFJ criticised the Chinese government for its ongoing attempts to intimidate and stifle media freedoms through the targeting of high-profile journalists such as Gao Yu and has called for a global media appeal to draw international attention to the case.

  • Chinese court hands journalist Gao Yu seven-year sentence

    "IPI stands behind Gao Yu, who reportedly plans to appeal, and we note that her continued detention serves no legitimate purpose while that appeal is pending. We call on Chinese authorities to release her immediately and to reject this politically motivated decision as unjust and unwarranted."

  • Veteran journalist Gao Yu (f) sentenced to seven years in prison in closed trial

    Footage of [Gao Yu] 'confessing', which she later said was taken under duress after police threatened to arrest her son, was shown on state television but was still used as evidence in court. There are serious concerns for her health and well-being in prison. PEN calls for Gao Yu's conviction to be quashed and her immediate and unconditional release.

  • Set Gao Yu free

    To coincide with World Press Freedom Day 2015, the IFJ is running a campaign to secure the release of veteran Chinese journalist, Gao Yu. The IFJ and its affiliates have written to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang for the release of veteran journalist Gao Yu. It calls on all its affiliates to back a letter to Chinese authorities asking for Gao Yu's immediate release.

Additional resources

Latest Tweet:

Bolivia: Gobernador ataca línea informativa de diario @ANPBOLIVIA #Bolivia

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.