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Report: Documents Show China Uses ‘Secrets Law’ Against Journalists

June 22, 1995

BEIJING (AP) _ Trial documents show that a Chinese journalist sentenced to six years in prison for leaking state secrets actually was prosecuted for political reasons, human rights groups said Friday.

When Gao Yu, 51, was sentenced in November, the government did not release any details about her case.

Documents released by Human Rights Watch-Asia and Human Rights in China showed that Gao was prosecuted for four articles she wrote for two Hong Kong publications, the Mirror Monthly and the Overseas Chinese Daily.

The articles assessed political and economic issues before a 1993 legislative session, the report said.

Gao and her attorneys said the material she was offered by a Communist Party official had been available to journalists and reported in other publications. She said the documents were not labeled secret.

She also reported statements by Deng Xiaoping that had long since become basic policy.

``Her acts were nothing more than ordinary news coverage,″ one of her attorneys told the court.

The human rights report said Gao was apparently prosecuted for political reasons _ she had associated with intellectuals who pushed for political reforms in 1988-89.

The rights groups called for a repeal of China’s laws governing state secrets and the release of prisoners detained under them. The laws are implemented in a ``highly selective and arbitrary fashion,″ they said.

China also has no independent review to determine whether classifying material as secret is justified.

In a statement at her sentencing, Gao said the judgment against her was a political one related to the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.

Gao was a prominent journalist, deputy editor of the now defunct Economics Weekly, a reformist newspaper run by a research institute set up by Chen Ziming and Wang Juntao. Chen and Wang tried to mediate between authorities and the students in Tiananmen Square and were arrested and sentenced to 13-year prison terms. Both were paroled for medical reasons.

Gao also tried to persuade the students to return to their campuses. She was arrested June 3, 1989, and held until August 1990, even though she was never charged with a crime.

According to the report, Gao is in Yanqing Prison in Beijing in a cell with women convicted of ordinary criminal offenses. She suffers from dizziness, heart disease and severe swelling in her legs.

China has imprisoned many people for spying or leaking state secrets, but began bringing such charges against journalists and their sources regularly in 1992, the report said.

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