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China accused of using courts to retaliate against journalists critical of government

[JURIST] A Chinese reporter for US-based Chinese news website Boxun.com [news website, in Chinese] received a four-year prison sentence Tuesday in Nanjing on charges of illegal weapons possession and public disorder. Sun Lin, who writes under the pen name Jie Mu, has reported on sensitive topics including crime, police brutality, and corruption in China, and Boxun said Sun was being punished for his work. His wife, He Fang, a Boxun contributor, received a suspended sentence for similar charges. The two have been in Chinese custody since their arrest [Asia Media report] in May 2007. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy website] condemned Sun's sentence, calling it [RSF press release] "yet another tragic example of the government's inability to tolerate journalists who dare to report news freely, without constraint or censorship." AP has more.

China has continued to stifle dissent, including arresting and imprisoning journalists and writers, in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, being held this summer in Beijing. In February, a Chinese court convicted dissident writer Lu Gengsong on charges of subversion [JURIST report], sentencing him to four years in prison for writing essays exposing corruption within the Communist Party of China. Earlier this year, the Chinese government violently suppressed demonstrations and protests in Tibet [JURIST news archive], detaining thousands.

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