Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chinese activist sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison - Chen Qitang

Photo: Chen Qitang

BEIJING (IHT): An Internet writer and activist in southern China has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on charges of impersonation and fraud, human rights groups said Tuesday.

Chen Qitang, who wrote under the pen name Tianli, was sentenced in secret on Dec. 31 after being detained for more than a year, Chinese Human Rights Defenders said.

The group said it believes Chen was targeted by authorities because he posted critical articles on the Internet and helped villagers in Foshan city in Guangdong province to resist land grabs.

Chen's wife found out about the sentence five days after it was imposed when she called the court in Foshan in Guangdong province, according to Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, a China-based activist organization. She and other members of the family were not told about the trial.

Chen was taken into custody in October 2007 and formally arrested in December that year, Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said in a statement.

Neither rights group provided details of the fraud allegations against Chen. However, China has previously leveled fraud charges against people who challenge the system.

Liu Hong, a spokeswoman for the Foshan District court, declined to comment Tuesday but said she would release information within two days.

A Nanhai district police spokesman, who refused to be named, refused to comment on the issue and hung up the phone.


On the Net:

Chen's blog: http://chenqitang.blogspot.com/2007/10/blog-post_3794.html

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