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China website editor sentenced to prison for defaming government

[JURIST] The editor of a website in China [JURIST news archive] that called for political reform has been sentenced to six years in prison by the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang province for defaming the government. Zhang Jianhong [Reporters Without Borders report] wrote some 60 critical articles on Aiqinghai.net and other websites before the government shut down the site in March 2006. Zhang was arrested in September with two other Internet authors, Chen Shuqing and Yang Maodong [Independent Chinese PEN Center report], who have yet to face trial. The court said it gave Zhang a more lenient sentence because he showed remorse for his actions.

Groups such as Reporters Without Borders (RWB) [advocacy website] have criticized China's record [RWB report] of cracking down on dissident journalists. The 2006 US Department of State Country Report [text; JURIST report] on China also denounced repeated threats and arrests of journalists in 2006, especially those who used the Internet. The report cited the imprisonments of journalists Zhao Yan, Ching Cheong [JURIST news archives], Shi Tao, and Lu Jianhua [JURIST reports]. Zhang was previously imprisoned at a labor camp for his involvement in China's pro-democracy movement in the 1980s. AP has more.

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