[JURIST] A Chinese court sentenced human rights activist Huang Qi to three years in prison Monday on the charge of illegally holding state secrets. Huang was a critic [AP report] of the Chinese government's handling of the 2008 earthquake in the Sichuan Province [BBC backgrounder] that killed about 90,000 people. After the quake, he posted articles online criticizing the government's response and talked to foreign media outlets about how some children's deaths were the result of poorly-built schools. Huang was originally detained on June 10, 2008. The human rights group Amnesty International [advocacy website] issued a statement [text] on July 31, 2009 contending that China should drop charges against Huang and free him:
[Huang] will be yet another victim of the Chinese authorities’ use of the extensive, vague, and retroactive state secrets system to penalize lawful rights’ defence activities. [sic]
In February, Huang's trial was delayed [JURIST report] after a Chinese court postponed it for one day, leaving his attorney less than 24 hours to prepare his defense and prompting an immediate legal challenge. Earlier this month, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report claimed [JURIST report] that Chinese citizens are being abducted by state agents and illegally detained in "black jails" where they are subjected to a host of human rights violations. China remains the subject of intense scrutiny from the international community due to the alleged failings of its criminal justice system.