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Internet Essayist Li Jianping Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison

October 25, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that
Shandong-based dissident Li Jianping has been sentenced to two years in
prison, more than half a year after he went to trial and more than 500 days
after he was first detained. On October 25, the Zibo City Intermediate People's
Court found Li guilty of "incitement to subvert state power" on the basis of
articles he wrote that were posted on overseas Web sites. Li reportedly plans to
appeal the verdict.

Li Jianping, 40, participated in the 1989 Democracy
Movement as a founder of the Independent Federation of Shanghai Universities. In
recent years he had run a medical supplies business in Zibo City, and also
posted many articles on overseas Chinese Web sites. Police officers from the
local Public Security Bureau (PSB) reportedly came to Li's home on May 27, 2005
to carry out an "Internet security inspection," and after finding "indecent"
images in Li's computer, detained him on suspicion of libel. He was formally
arrested on June 30, 2005 after a search on his home, during which police seized
manuscripts, communications and bank records, and overseas checks in payment for
his articles.

Li's case was referred to the Zibo Procuratorate on August
30 that same year, but the procuratorate sent the case back to the PSB on
October 12 and again on December 26 for supplementary investigation because of
insufficient evidence. The PSB submitted Li's case to the procuratorate again on
January 26, 2006, and he was formally indicted on March 7. During his
two-and-a-half hour trial on April 12, the prosecution presented as evidence the
titles of 31 articles Li had written criticizing the Chinese authorities and
expressing concern over China's human rights situation. However, no verdict was
announced at the time.

In "major" or "complex" cases, China's Criminal
Procedure Law provides for a maximum of one and a half months for an indictment
to be issued (Article 138), with extensions for further investigation if
necessary, and a maximum of two and a half months for the announcement of a
judgment (Article 168). These time limits were exceeded throughout the
proceedings against Li Jianping. In addition, sources in China told HRIC that Li
was not allowed to see his family or lawyer throughout his detention, and has
been almost completely cut off from communication with them since April 13, on
several occasions relying on others to pass letters to his family requesting a
meeting with his lawyer.

HRIC is deeply concerned that Li Jianping's
case is yet another example of a citizen being subjected to excessive detention
and denied access to his lawyer and family after peacefully exercising rights
guaranteed by Chinese domestic law and international human rights law. The
foundation for a harmonious society must include a fair and independent legal
system, and the right of citizens of that society to peacefully express their