Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of the well-known blogger and pro-democracy activist Zhang Lin on 12 August on completing a five-year sentence for posting articles online that were deemed to be “contrary to the bases of the constitution” and “a danger to national security.”
“We are glad that Zhang Lin has been able to rejoin his wife and family,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His release is a relief but we cannot forget the other prisoners of opinion held by the Chinese government and we urge the authorities to free all the journalists and bloggers who have been convicted for using their right to free expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed.”
Arrested illegally on 29 January 2005 in the eastern province of Anhui, where is from, Zhang was initially placed in “administrative detention.” He was then accused of threatening the country’s security by means of the articles he posted online and was given the five-year sentence on 14 October 2005.
Zhang often posted articles on websites linked to the Falun Gong spiritual movement such as Dajiyuan.com and Epochtimes.com, as well as Boxun.com, a website about human rights in China. He was imprisoned from 1989 to 1991, and again from 1995 to 1998, when he was sentenced to hard labour.
He then left for the United States to pursue his political activities, but reentered China clandestinely a few months later and was rearrested a third time, at which point he was sent to a labour camp until 2001. In all, he has spent 13 years in detention.
At least 59 cyber-dissidents and 30 journalists are currently held in China in violation of the right to free expression. The latest bloggers to be detained include Ilham Tohti and Tan Zuoren. Their imprisonment is direct evidence of the censorship practiced by the Chinese government.